The Power of Inclusion: How Employee Resource Networks Can Drive a Sense of Belonging at Work

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The Power of a community does not lie in its structure, organization, roles and responsibilities, or the defined processes, not even in the different members that compose it; the power of a community lies in its essence, what it is made of, its core must contain the most wonderful formula that exists in the universe: “love”. 

Having Love as the center of everything you do, it will make you flourish in difficult environments and, despite the thorns you encounter along the way, be attentive to always promote respect, brotherhood, solidarity, inclusion and care. When two or more people who have the power of Love come together in community they are Invincible – Hector Solis

My name is Hector Solis, and I am the chair of the Global LGBT+ and allies Employee Resource Network (ERN). I’m happy to talk about the power of communities and how these can be a way to promote uniqueness, a sense of belonging and a culture of inclusion and care.

What has been your experience as an Open/Visible LGBTQ+ Professional?

I am a proud and visible gay professional who is leading a BIG cultural transformation at Schneider Electric globally. I am a Global Human Resources leader who strives for Digital Transformation and Governance for Employee Experience.

Being open and raising awareness has given me the opportunity to challenge the status quo. It has helped me lead global teams to shift from ideas to actual day-to-day execution, where being LGBT+ or an ally becomes part of our DNA.

The power of communities: How important is belonging and uniqueness at Schneider Electric?

In my personal experience, belonging is a consequence of uniqueness and the result of it is purpose. However, the journey to belonging and finding a sense of purpose can be extremely challenging for an LGBT+ professional. Having a community makes this journey less challenging.

This is why it is important to develop ERNs as a way to develop a community that can relieve the struggle. Finding others with the same interests, values and ways of thinking helps us feel that we’re not alone and makes us feel cared for and valued. Being accepted into a group gives us a stronger sense of self and can help us cope with negative experiences and feelings. 

At Schneider Electric, we believe in the value of communities to empower ourselves to strive for uniqueness, care and inclusion, and help others be allies to promote our core values.

Let’s talk about the ERN by starting with its definition

An ERN is a group or network of people:

  • with either similar backgrounds, experiences, characteristics and/or
  • those who share a common interest in professional development, improving corporate culture and business results.
  • Employee driven, voluntary, and open to all employees

What are the benefits of having an ERN at Schneider Electric?

According to McKinsey, effective ERNs can enhance workplace inclusivity by ensuring that their efforts are in line with both corporate and employee expectations. Belonging to an ERN also helps employees feel they can be authentic at work and derive more meaning and purpose from the work that they do.

Launching our Global LGBT+ and Allies ERN

Some years ago, there was a global community formed as the “Global LGBT+ and Allies Squad” who started the journey to design, develop, execute, and promote the LGBT+ scope in our company. Starting with I am Me, I am Unique, I am Schneider Electric and then the “It starts with respect” campaign, this group of people (me included) is committed to sustaining and planning for specific activities — not only during PRIDE month — to foster support for the LGBT+ community among our members and allies globally.

In 2023, we are improving the way we structure we structure the Global LGBT+ and allies community to secure a more visionary and executable plan in alignment with our enhanced DEI policies.

We are now introducing the renewed Global ERN for LGBT+ employees and those who promote allyship! Our first global structured ERN started as a global community for all.

How the revamp of the Global LGBT+ and Allies ERN helps employees and the entire company foster a culture of respect, and promote inclusion and care?

The Global ERN involves open and visible LGBT+ leaders and allies who will own the different projects and programs for the inclusion and care of the LGBT+ community. It’s built based on a strategic scope, mission, and vision and its leaders and team members will have specific roles and responsibilities which they can attach to their career development.

Our Mission: We aim to create a global community of LGBT+ employees and Allies who strive for LGBT+ awareness and inclusion in the workplace, promote visibility and representation as key elements to build a resilient community, and inspire allies to sustain a culture of respect and intersectionality in the workplace.

Our Vision: We envision to build a Global network of LGBT+ employees and allies who believe in the importance of uniqueness and authenticity by creating Awareness of diverse Talents and how these contribute to the business success and impacts to society and developing an empowered and resilient community that inspires others to bring their authentic self to work to expose their maximum potential with integrity and dignity.

What is the Global LGBT+ and Allies ERN Commitment and how are we going to do it?

  1. We believe in what we do. We are a group of leaders; some LGBT+ visible and strong allies who will commit to advocate with passion and integrity to Embrace Different and promote a culture of respect globally.
  2. We learn and educate ourselves and others to promote inclusive language, LGBT+ history, important milestones, and allyship with the support of local ERN´s and DEI networks.
  3. We create, promote and sustain best practices, processes and policies that support LGBT+ employees and their families.
  4. We connect with executive leaders to secure partnership and sustainability of LGBT+ and allies’ activities inside and outside Schneider.
  5. We advocate to be global ambassadors inside and outside the company and foster #embracedifferent in all we do, because #LifeIsOn for everyone, everywhere

Our Call to Action to all leaders globally

As McKinsey states, the task for business leaders is ensuring ERNs align with employees’ expectations and the business’s DEI priorities. Experience suggests that we can fulfil this task by paying attention to several factors, such as ensuring clear communication about the ERNs purpose and goals, aligning each ERN activity with the corporate DEI strategy, and lending sufficient organizational support to ERNs.

Leaders are key to promote company culture, and at Schneider Electric we value everyone’s views and beliefs. We open our hearts and minds, and we encourage others to:

  • Listen with empathy: through the voices and lived experiences of our employees and allies, asking to share more personal reflection on their everyday experience of inclusion as member of the community or as allies.
  • Learn with Humility: by being aware of our own biases and assumptions towards people from the community and through foundational knowledge that helps building and sustaining an inclusive culture.
  • Recognize with honesty: As a result of the first two pillars, one can realize and recognize the challenges a member from the community faces and can act upon it to build a greater sense of belonging.
  • Support the community as much possible: Through small actions throughout the year like using Microsoft Teams backgrounds, promote usage of preferred pronouns in electronic signatures and in conversations, engaging in local pride activities but above all identify unconscious biases and promote respect, inclusion and care for all people.

About the Author

Hector Solis leads the Global HR Services PMO at Schneider Electric and is a proud and visible gay professional and current global LGBT+ Ambassador and part of the Global LGBT+ community at Schneider Electric.

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