In a world reeling from a global pandemic, social unrest, and ongoing emotional tax, how can corporations step up, lean in and create more supportive, and inclusive workplaces?
This month Forbes ranked Schneider Electric #48 on their America’s Best Employers for Diversity list and best in our industry. I’m proud of the focus and energy Schneider has put on diversity, equity and inclusion to ensure all our people are safe to bring their authentic selves to work each day. Our employees are noticing, the world is noticing.
We’re not number one. But we’re getting there. We’re encouraged by this ranking and know there is more work to do.
So how did our company achieve this ranking? In this blog post, I’ll share three strategies and initiatives that put us on this path and that may be useful for driving change in your own organization.
My Experience at Schneider
When I started at Schneider 14 years ago, the company looked very different than today. I was the only woman in most meetings I attended, outside of HR and Marketing, and I don’t recall diversity of color, ethnicity, nationality, etc. I don’t recall many women in senior leadership positions in the US.
Looking at the concrete numbers, they tell a story:
|Board of Directors||1 Female||42% Female|
|Executive Leadership||1 Female||37% Female|
|Global Leadership||< 5% Female||25% Female|
|Overall Workforce||25% Female||33% Female|
Diversity, equity and inclusion are central to our core values and mission at Schneider and we’ve been on this journey for nearly 15 years. When we commit to something, we deliver. We’re making small changes and meaningful steps forward, resulting in different conversations, more innovation and enriched cultural experiences.
Strategy #1: Set Concrete Goals and Create Inclusive Policies
We’ve implemented key programs to help advance our company and industry over the years. Today, everything we do as a company is through a lens of diversity, equity, inclusion – building belonging. Our ambition is bold, we value differences, and we aspire to become the most diverse, inclusive and equitable company globally. It’s not just something we say: we’ve backed it up with real commitments, actions and results to date.
In addition to these commitments, we’ve implemented Inclusive Practices & Policies including:
- Global Family Leave – 12 weeks paid leave for birth or adoption, family care leave, and more
- Flexible work arrangements including elective part–time and recharge breaks
- Seven affinity employee resource networks with local and virtual chapters across the country
- Open Talent Market providing access and exposure to “gig” and full-time mobility opportunities
- Global and local hiring and representation ambitions for gender, race and ethnicity
- Implemented a global pay equity framework with actions to address gaps and renewed commitment to <1% gap for men and women globally by 2025
Strategy #2: Support your employees
Supporting each other, through vulnerable conversations & standing up for equity
After, George Floyd was killed, our leadership team knew they needed to learn how to best show up and support our employees. It was not a time to be passive, it was a time to take action. We deliberately prioritized supporting our employees first.
Meaningful steps we’ve taken for racial equity
Through our Open Talent Market platform, over 40 employees from different businesses, experiences and backgrounds stepped up to architect and implement a rapid response plan. The team worked on quick response and systemic improvements. Other actions our teams have taken:
- Allyship training deployed to our US teams and hidden bias training required for all employees
- Equity improvements to all talent review processes
- Partnerships with SWE, NSBE, TSU and NC A&T University for talent recruitment, development & exposure
- DEI Townhall on Race & the workplace with Michelle Silverthorn of Inclusion Nation and ongoing open forum discussions
- Martin Luther King Jr. Day added as incremental US holiday
In the last year, I’ve seen our people step up to support each other in a way that I’ve never experienced in a work setting. Our teams have organized open listening sessions with our Black and Asian ancestry colleagues, thousands attended virtual townhalls discussing topics like race, LGBTQ+, and gender in the workplace, and our employees are getting involved in systemic changes in their communities and are helping our customers advance their own DEI journeys.
I am really proud of the conscious shift all our #SEGreatPeople have made to support each other, seek to understand our differences, challenge the status quo, and lean into the sometimes uncomfortable spaces of this work.
Strategy #3: Invest in the future
Let’s face it: Our industry is not as diverse as it should be. There is a big gap in STEM education, a place where our company can make an impact in terms of racial and gender equity.
We want our workforce to look like the community where we live and work. This isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s an imperative for our innovation driven culture. Diverse teams, where everyone’s ideas and perspectives are valued, bring better solutions to the market, and can meet the needs of our diverse customers.
In an industry that isn’t inherently diverse, there is systemic work to be done. Our teams are stepping up to the challenge, getting involved in their local communities with programs like First Robotics, Go Red for STEM, STEM Mentoring via 100 Black Men of America, and the Boys and Girls Club.
We’ve set specific workforce ambitions for gender and underrepresented minority representation to better mirror the community. By 2025 we’d like our external hires to be at least 50% women and 25% Black or African American in the US.
But hiring isn’t enough, so we’re looking critically at our processes and we’re aiming for increased representation in front line manager and leadership positions
Our diversity, equity and inclusion ambition is not a Human Resources initiative, it’s a business imperative and something that everyone is helping to advance forward, from front line sales, to manufacturing teams, leadership teams and individual contributors. This work is the honor of my career, and I couldn’t be prouder of how our employees have stepped up for each other, leaned in to difficult conversations, and now, are ultimately helping us move Schneider, our industry and the world forward.
So … How Can You Step Up?
We all have a choice to make in our everyday actions to create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive world. All actions, big and small create a butterfly effect and better future for all to thrive. If you’re a Schneider employee who wants to get actively involved in this work, join our employee resource networks as a member or ally today and reach out to your leader for a discussion on what you can do within your teams.
If you’re looking to advance your company’s DEI position, consider connecting with your employees, customers and partners to learn together. I’ve been exponentially enriched by these experiences and exchanges. We are truly better together.
About the Author
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