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Author’s Note: I recently had the pleasure of speaking about inclusion at Schneider Electric at the Society of Women Engineers’ WE23 conference — the world’s largest conference for women in engineering and technology. What was striking about that experience was just how important inclusion is to everyone, regardless of age, gender, specialty, or role. In this blog, I share some of the main takeaways of my presentation and offer insights on Schneider’s journey to build a more inclusive and caring culture.
Employees are 9.8 times more likely to look forward to going to work if they have this one thing.
It’s not unlimited breakroom snacks. It’s not a ping-pong table. It’s trust that they’ll receive fair treatment.
Employees have an intrinsic right to inclusion and care in the workplace. And companies are rapidly enhancing their vision of the ideal employee culture with new benefits and policies that shape a culture of empowerment. Schneider Electric is one of those companies.
Building a foundation of inclusion and care
To understand our inclusion and care journey, it’s important to know what Schneider does and what we stand for. To start, we’re a technology company, providing energy and automation digital solutions. And our purpose is to empower all to make the most of our energy and resources, bridging progress and sustainability for all. This means developing sustainable solutions to help our customers overcome their energy and operational challenges. By leveraging our expertise in these areas, we strive to make a positive impact.
Of course, accomplishing our purpose and mission isn’t possible without our people. That’s why we at Schneider prioritize inclusion as we build and sustain a workforce ready to tackle the energy transition head-on.
In fact, we are committed to hardwiring inclusion and care into every level of our culture and the employee experience. From the very beginning, we instill in our employees the importance of equal opportunities for everyone, everywhere so they feel uniquely valued and safe to contribute their best.
In Schneider, our employees know that we approach our work through the lens of “we, us, and our,” rather than “I or me.” This mindset allows us to embrace diverse perspectives, foster collaboration, and create an environment where everyone can thrive. We actively encourage co-creation, valuing the input and contributions of each team member. We firmly believe that every voice matters and should be heard, as it is through the collective intelligence of our diverse perspectives that we drive innovation and high performance.
Journeying toward greater inclusion
Our journey toward greater inclusion involves strong commitments and ongoing initiatives at every level of our organization, from the shop floor to the top floor.
Our efforts began in 2006 when we began to prioritize gender diversity to drive meaningful change. This marked a pivotal turning point in our commitment to creating a more inclusive environment. We implemented our first-ever diversity policy, joined partnerships like UN Women HeForShe, and set a Global Pay Equity Framework.
In 2016, we took a significant leap forward by expanding our efforts to foster inclusion and psychological safety. We implemented comprehensive programs designed to support our employees in achieving a healthy work-life balance. Looking ahead, we remain dedicated to continuously strengthening our inclusive environment, striving to create a positive impact not only within Schneider but also extending beyond our organization and making a difference in our communities through the Schneider North America Foundation.
Listening and acting to reach greater inclusion
Our inclusion and care journey has been an iterative process, guided by an agile approach. We understand that fostering inclusion is an ongoing effort that requires continuous learning and adaptation. As we listen to thought leaders, employees, and stakeholders, we embrace feedback loops, which allow us to refine our strategies and actions along the way.
We leverage surveys, meetings, polls, discussions, and deep dives to gather insights, ensuring that we account for a wide range of perspectives. This iterative process enables us to be flexible, make informed decisions to identify the most impactful programs and adjust our course as needed.
We collaborate closely with leaders and employee groups, securing executive buy-in and reinforcing the importance of our inclusive initiatives for both our people and our business. Through this approach, we are hardwiring inclusion and care into our organizational DNA, promoting a culture of continuous improvement and forward momentum towards a more inclusive future.
Implementing programs to support progress
Through these efforts, we’ve begun implementing impactful programs that foster a culture of inclusion and care.
Flexibility@Work ensures our employees can best manage their unique work and life with hybrid working options, flexible schedules, backup child and elder care, voluntary part time, mental health resources and more.
Over 200 leaders have already completed the Inclusion for Impact leadership development program, enabling them to build high performing, diverse teams and properly care for their unique needs. From here on out, 600 leaders will receive this training annually.
Through our Returnship Program, we offer experienced professionals who have taken a break from the workforce an opportunity to reboot their careers via a six-month professional program that combines skill polish, personal development, and hands-on training. It serves as a bridge to help professionals re-ignite their careers and regain their confidence, ultimately embarking on a revitalized professional journey.
And with our Pronouns in the Workplace program, employees can elect to display their preferred pronouns with a sticker, pin, or on their virtual background. An employee told us this small step helped her better understand how to navigate her daughter’s pronoun preferences.
An Inspiring Conference
As mentioned earlier, I recently spoke about inclusion at Schneider Electric at the Society of Women Engineers’ WE23 conference in Los Angeles. This is the world’s largest conference for women in engineering and technology, with over 17,000 attendees, including business professionals, students, and industry partners.
It was inspiring to be surrounded by the thousands of women in engineering who were in attendance. I was honored to speak about my experience building a people culture that’s inclusive from the shop floor to the top floor. Schneider Electric has been part of the SWE Corporate Partnership Council (CPC) for several years, and our increased involvement at the SWE Conference highlights our commitment to DEI and offering equal opportunities to everyone, everywhere.
Bridging progress and sustainability for all
Inclusion is our marker of progress and sustainability for all.
A month ago, I celebrated my 19th anniversary at Schneider. As I reflected on my career journey, I asked myself what has kept me here all these years – and the answer is our culture.
Specifically, I feel passionate about our commitment to becoming the most inclusive and caring company in the world.
I am remarkably proud of where we’ve come from, and I’m excited to see the impact these policies and programs will have as we continue prioritizing inclusion and care for our people. After all, great cultures do not happen by accident.
About the author
Mai Lan Nguyen, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, Schneider Electric
As HR Leader for North America, Mai Lan partners with a team of great HR professionals to execute a people strategy that engages employees to perform at their best. By shaping the best employee experience through innovative people policies and inclusive programming enabled by digital, she’s driving business success and growth. Mai Lan defines herself as a global nomad and has been with Schneider Electric for almost 20 years.