The Quest Diagnostics--Leadership From The Top

By Mauricio Velasquez, President of DTG &
Sylvester Mendoza, Director of Diversity Strategies

Quest Diagnostics is the nation's leading laboratory provider in the managed care market. The company is a leader in substance abuse testing, molecular diagnostics and genetic testing and 27,000 employees strong is proud to "shift their diversity activities into fifth gear." Ken Freeman, Chairman and CEO of Quest Diagnostics has taken their diversity endeavors and inclusive work place efforts to the next level with the hire of a new diversity leader.

Mr. Sylvester Mendoza, Director of Diversity Strategies for Quest Diagnostics recently came over from Merrill Lynch in New York City. Mr. Mendoza was looking for a new challenge to work with a progressive organization and an enlightened CEO like Ken Freeman. Having joined the Quest Diagnostics team only recently, Mr. Mendoza is already making "a big splash." Mr. Mendoza was brought in to lead and institutionalize their diversity efforts. He wanted a position, an opportunity with access to the CEO and senior leadership and he has received more than just support, he has the commitment all of us in the field desire from their top leaders in any organization. Quest Diagnostics had partnered with the Diversity Training Group and Mauricio Velasquez, President of DTG, for several years and realized they needed someone internally to anchor their diversity endeavors. Mr. Mendoza was their change agent of choice and he has made an immediate impact as a leader, advocate, coach, mentor, and diversity visionary for the organization.

After assessing where the organization was on it's diversity journey with a series of nationwide focus groups, Mr. Mendoza developed a strategy and secured senior management "buy-in, support and commitment" and started rolling it out. From one of their recent internal communications comes this message, "Our Company is embarking on a company-wide effort to become a 'Top 100' place to work. Valuing and managing diversity is an essential part of meeting this goal. It will help give us a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining a high performing workforce. In a dynamic marketplace, our ability to sense the unique needs and requirements of our customers will also enable us to deliver our products and services with greater speed."

Most organizations conduct diversity training and might roll out few other diversity-related initiatives. Very few organizations develop a comprehensive diversity strategy and plan and anchor their endeavors with accountability built into the process. Mr. Mendoza chose to position all of their diversity endeavors around a comprehensive and holistic corporate-wide strategy. Mr. Mendoza commented at a recent senior leadership meeting, "we are requiring all business units and corporate functions to build a diversity action plan around the four Rs of Diversity:"

bulletRespect-treating each individual with respect
bulletReputation-developing an image as an employer of choice
bulletRepresentation-recruiting and retaining diversity of talent at all levels
bulletResults-leveraging diversity to improve financial performance through increased market share, productivity and lower costs.

The "ground breaking" questions Mr. Mendoza is asking leaders, managers and change agents throughout Quest Diagnostics nationwide include:

bulletTo what extent do we have a work environment where employees are recognized, valued, and treated with respect and dignity?
bulletTo what extent is our image and credibility as an employer of choice and one of the best places to work publicly recognized?
bulletTo what extent is our workforce, at all levels, reflective of the diversity of qualified individuals in the U.S.?
bulletTo what extent is our diversity efforts tied to our business activities and bottom line results?

Below you will find the actual form Mr. Mendoza presented as the cornerstone of the actual implementation of Quest Diagnostic's diversity strategy.


Quest Diagnostics
2001 Diversity Action
Plan Business Unit / Corporate Function

 Objectives  Expected ResultsActual Mid / Year -End Results
To create a work environment where employees are recognized, valued, and treated with respect and dignity.


To enhance our image and credibility as an employer of choice and one of the best places to work.


To acquire, retain, and develop the rich diversity of talent and reflect this diversity at all levels of the organization


To leverage diversity in all of business activities to increase productivity and reduce costs



Follow up questions after conducting a gap analysis (assessing where Quest Diagnostics is today versus where it is going and needs to be) all across the organization include:

bulletWhat are the respective barriers to fully achieving respect, reputation, representation, and results?
bulletWhat respective recommendations do you have for overcoming these barriers?
bulletWhat does local management need to do to bring the 4Rs to reality?
bulletWhat actions/indicators would demonstrate to employees that local management is committed to diversity?

In the follow up article we will focus on implementation, results and measurement of Quest Diagnostic's diversity strategy and subsequent inclusive work place successes. Stay tuned.

For more information contact:

Mauricio Velasquez
President, DTG
692 Pine Street
Herndon, VA 20170 
Sylvester Mendoza
Director, Diversity Strategy
Quest Diagnostics
1 Malcolm Avenue
Teterboro, NJ 07608