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Another Man's View of Hughes Aircraft

November 27, 1994

I just finished reading a letter to you from a retired Hughes Aircraft Co. employee about the "Discrimination Award and Hughes' Culture" (Nov. 13). Let me quote a portion of it: "Hughes Aircraft Company was founded by that great engineer but alleged racist Howard Hughes. As a result, its culture has long been typified by a 'closed elite family' personality. Family membership is reserved for white males who are mostly overly impressed with their intellect and arrogant in their deference to equal opportunity. A family that nonwhite males have found almost impossible to penetrate. Basically, Hughes' culture implants and encourages the belief that negative stereotypes of minorities are valid."

I too am a Hughes retiree, but I must have worked for a different company with the same name. Never in my 30 years at Hughes did I see the slightest evidence of company-sanctioned racism. I saw a black who started as a technician who is now in charge of manufacturing. I worked for and with African Americans, Chinese, Japanese, Jews, Mexicans, Iranians, Indians, Vietnamese, every nationality you can think of. As far as I can tell, we all got along marvelously. I admit that I am not a minority so may have missed some slights that others were more sensitive to, but I doubt it.

In fact, I am so against prejudice that I would not work for a company where I thought it officially existed. If such a thing did exist, it was so subtle as to be vanishingly small. Certainly there was no overt official discrimination--just the opposite. Every effort was made to promote minorities, and they were promoted.

That is not to say that there weren't individuals working there who were racists or prejudiced. I think you will always find a few among any group of people, but the point is the company was not involved. I cannot comment on the merits of the discrimination case against Hughes as I haven't sufficient knowledge. I am only reporting what I observed.

LAWRENCE I. IVEY

Malibu

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