Hewlett-Packard article about Lynn's visit to Fort Collins' facility:
On February 9, 2001 the Hewlett-Packard on-line newsletter ran a feature story about Lynn's January 25, 26 visit to HP's Fort Collins' facility. The newsletter reaches most of hp's 88,000 employees. Below you find the "front page"of the hp Employee Portal for Feb. 9, 2001, which provided access to the hpNOW articles that day. Below that you'll find the hpNOW story about Lynn's visit.
See also a related article about Lynn's HP visit entitled "Computer pioneer speaks from the heart about diversity" that ran in the Fort Collins Coloradoan on January 26, 2001.
An important update (summer 2003):
During the two years following Lynn's visit, a wonderful group of HP GLBT folks made an ongoing educational effort for inclusion of EO/HR protections for trans people in HP's policies. Under Carly Fiorina's leadership, doors and minds at senior levels were opened to listen to concerns about this issue. These efforts were rewarded in the summer of 2003 with the announcement of the inclusion of "gender identity/expression" in HP's non-discrimination policy.
HP thus joins the list of leading high-tech companies like Intel, Apple, IBM, Lucent Technologies, Xerox, American Airlines, NCR, AETNA, Nike, Kodak, JPMorgan Chase, Walgreens, PG&E and many others in protecting the human rights of transgender and transsexual employees. What is amazing is that this policy change was taken very seriously and was made during a very tumultous period in HP's business history. Trans people everywhere take heart in HP's corporate understanding of these issues, and in their recognition of and protection of the human rights of gender minorities.

Embracing Diversity
HP employees in Fort Collins, Colorado, welcome Dr. Lynn Conway
Posted February 8, 2001

Dr. Lynn Conway is well known in the computer industry and within academia for her pioneering work in chip design. Conway helped develop the integrated circuit design behind VLSI (very large scale integration), a design and manufacturing approach that increased the number of transistors on a chip from thousands to millions. A co-author of the widely used engineering textbook, Introduction to VLSI Systems, she is also a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a professor emerita of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Michigan.

Dr. Lynn Conway

Beyond the distinguished curriculum vitae lies a remarkable personal journey. Born a biological male, Conway was one of the first transsexuals to have a full sex-change operation in the 1960s. It is this story of a career filled with industry-transforming accomplishments — and seemingly unsurmountable challenges overcome — that HP employees gathered to hear January 25 at the Fort Collins, Colorado site. During a two-day visit, more than 100 employees and managers from four local HP offices flocked to events that focused on Conway's technical research, her life experiences and diversity issues within companies.
During Conway's presentation to employees, she chronicled the personal and professional paths she has traveled. Born and raised as a male in the 1940s and 1950s, Conway realized from an early age that she had the gender identity of a woman. While working as a computer scientist at IBM in the 1960s, she began undergoing a gender transition. However, prior to her male-to-female sex reassignment surgery, Conway was fired.
An HP collaboration
Following the successful surgery, Conway launched her career anew, eventually landing a job at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) in the 1970s. It was during her tenure at PARC that her career intersected with HP. The late Merrill Brooksby, an HP manager, and Pat Castro, then manager of the Integrated Circuit Lab at HP's Deer Creek site, collaborated with Conway to provide the fast-turnaround wafer she needed to accelerate her VLSI research.
For Conway, starting a new life and career as a woman meant leaving behind all connections to her earlier achievements, including her groundbreaking research at IBM. While her professional work continued to flourish, she lived more than 30 years in self-described "stealth mode." Recently, Conway has begun to share her story with others, compelled to speak out, she says, because transsexual women still experience inhumane treatment by families, employers and society.
When Terry Hildebrandt, a member of HP's CGLEN (Colorado Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered Employee Network), invited Conway to come to HP, the professor didn't think twice.
"I've always felt I've owed a debt of gratitude to HP," Conway says. "The company has always had a very down-to-earth, community feeling that is very welcoming. It's important to preserve that atmosphere."
New challenges
In a separate discussion with more than 20 human resources managers and GMs from Colorado's HP sites, Conway discussed the growing number of surgical sex reassignments and the resulting challenges for companies.
"It's important that companies begin putting guidelines in place to deal with the issues surrounding someone going through a transgender transition," Conway says.
"After hearing her story, I left with a better understanding of how important it is to allow people to be individuals and appreciate the uniqueness each brings to the environment," comments Jaime Mares, Workplace Solutions HR manager. "When you create a safe environment for people, you allow the freedom of individuals to exchange ideas."
"Dr Conway's visit was an incredible success," adds CGLEN's Terry Hildebrandt. "All the events were well attended and she was very well received. The first of the Rules of the Garage is 'Believe you can change the world.' Dr. Conway has inspired me to really believe that this is possible."
The dangers of conformity
A company emphasis on conformity can stifle growth and individuality, Conway cautions. Echoing one of CEO Carly Fiorina's frequent messages, Conway also added that diversity encourages self-expression and helps fuel creativity.
"Employees need to see diversity in their work environment," she warns. "Otherwise, they're afraid to reveal anything different about themselves — even ideas."
High-tech companies like HP, Conway adds, have the power to influence the communities of which they are a part, simply by their attitudes toward diversity.
"If companies welcome diversity, they can be wildly exciting places," says Conway. "They have the potential to be forces of cultural change in communities."
Read a related article in Scientific American.
Visit Lynn Conway's website.
Learn more about Global Diversity & Work Life at HP.
© 2001 Hewlett-Packard Company