Written by Guest Blogger, David Clark
When I joined APC’s Customer Care Center at Schneider Electric in June 2016, I looked for ways to contribute to the positive, engaging atmosphere of my local office. Despite working in the sales division, I’ve always advocated employee engagement and cross-functional collaboration. Especially on the local level.
I soon learned that the company planned to launch four new business resource groups (BRGs), including one for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees. I just knew I had to get involved!
BRGs are volunteer-led groups of employees coming together in the workplace around shared characteristics or experiences. These groups provide a wide range of opportunities for their members. These opportunities range from cross-functional networking to community service, to professional development. Due to the success of the company’s first two BRGs – Emerging Professionals Network and Women in Schneider Electric – I knew that an LGBT BRG would have enough company resources and support to thrive.
As a member of the LGBT community, I’ve advocated increasing awareness of community initiatives – both in and out of work. I was highly involved in our local LGBT chapter while working at my last company. I did my part to raise awareness – and funding – for our company team in the annual AIDS Walk initiative. I’ve also had the opportunity to volunteer with several LGBT Pride festivals across the country.
These experiences have enabled me to witness the positive impact that community-focused BRGs can have. I couldn’t resist the offer to lead Schneider Electric’s first LGBT BRG office chapter.
The first chapter, in Costa Mesa, California launched on September 8, 2016. We had over 20 employees in attendance from many departments. Individuals attended in person and virtually, as well as senior staff. We could tell that this was a group that had genuine interest and support in our office. Several employees asked how to get involved and signed up for our distribution list. With interest from members of the LGBT community and allies alike, we decided to conduct monthly meetings in addition to our scheduled events.
Since its launch, the BRG has been growing. Not only did we establish a sister chapter in our Boston office, but we created an official BRG name: SchOUT (Schneider Out)! Our visibility in the Costa Mesa office is increasing. We had a cupcake giveaway for October’s National Coming Out Day and managed the annual Toys for Tots charity drive. We also had an observance of World AIDS Day in December. With all these events and terrific support office-wide, Schneider Electric’s first LGBT BRG has enjoyed tremendous success!
Being part of SchOUT’s launch has been an extremely rewarding experience, both professionally and personally. Having the opportunity to network with colleagues and managers outside of the Sales department has helped me form many connections and mentors across Schneider Electric. I would not have met most of these individuals had it not been for the BRG.
Alongside other LGBT employees, the group inspired me to share my own personal experiences – especially my coming out story – with colleagues through educational discussions. This has allowed me to feel more comfortable and confident in being myself in the workplace. Overall, serving as the President of SchOUT’s Costa Mesa chapter has definitely been the highlight of my career so far.
Allowing employees to come together, learn about different communities, and take part in volunteer and educational opportunities, strengthens the foundation of employee engagement. Not only is this concept key for productivity, but it also paves the way for new business opportunities. To better serve an increasingly diverse customer base, we must embrace the diversity of our workforce.
David Clark joined APC’s Customer Care Center as an Inside Sales Consultant in June 2016. A southern California native, he graduated from the University of California, San Diego and spent the past 4 years living on the East Coast (DC and NYC). David is a huge advocate of diversity and inclusion initiatives, an area in which he developed his passion with past employers like the British Embassy and KPMG. He is also the founding President of the SchOUT LGBT BRG’s first chapter and enjoys professional blogging on LinkedIn in his spare time.
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6 years ago
Hi David, great post! ***Applause*** See what happens when you’re proactively involved in seeking opportunities to donate your time to extracurricular activities in an effort to cultivate community! What a great company Schneider must be to encourage the BRGs. I especially like the part where you said members of the “LGBT community and allies alike”. I am part of the allies alike and I think it is infinitely valuable for co-workers, and all humans to come together and demonstrate love and support for each other. Love the SchOUT! and cupcake giveaway too!
6 years ago
Thank you for your comment and words of encouragement! Schneider has definitely integrated diversity & inclusion initiatives into its business plan, ensuring that all employees feel accepted & supported in the workplace, which in turn increases productivity & engagement while minimizing turnover.
6 years ago
As part of the LGBT and Schneider Electric community I am glad to have people like you David, and for sure SE has definitely integrated diversity and inclusion iniciatives for everybody. I would like to know how can I get involved and promote diversity and inclusion in the plant where I am located.
6 years ago
Thank you for your comment! Launching an office BRG chapter is an effective way to promote diversity on the local level. So if you’d like to learn about starting a SchOUT chapter, you’re more than welcome to reach-out to me directly and we can schedule a discussion: email@example.com.
Hector Solis - NAM HRSS
5 years ago
Hi David and LGBT members, I would like to participate in the LGBT community at SE, here in Mexico we are making a huge transformation in equity and diversity that I would like to also share my experience working for a great and diverse company as SE as a gay man and above all as a married gay man and part of the diversity and inclusion community as part of the global diversity and inclusion teams and change efforts. I am based in Monterrey Mexico. Thanks for being an advocate of our community, great and valuable work . Greetings from Mexico
5 years ago
Thank you so much for sharing your story and for your willingness to drive Diversity and Inclusion in Schneider Electric. Although David is no longer with the company I can definitely work with you on this. I was the SchOUT VP with David and I currently am President of the Diversity and Inclusion BRG at the Chicago Grid. Would love to discuss various ways you could get involved with the BRGs and possibly start a chapter in your local office! I will reach out to you via email. Thanks again!