Push for workplace diversity as VW plant brings international flavor

Mario Duarte of Volkswagen said that when he joined the automaker's Chattanooga operation, he expected to see a lot of Germans.

But what he found were many people from other VW plants -- it has more than 60 worldwide -- who came to the United States to start up the factory, including from Spain, Mexico, Portugal, Slovakia and Brazil.

"There were people from all over the world who came here to build the plant," he told a Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce group.

Duarte, assistant manager of staffing and workforce planning for VW in Chattanooga, said the German carmaker has a corporate commitment to diversity.

In Chattanooga, he said, the company has tried to mirror the local area in terms of diversity.

"When Volkswagen decided to come to Chattanooga, we started to look for leaders throughout the community to try to understand how it had evolved and what was important," Duarte said.