Why is this approach important to Ingersoll Rand?
In order to compete in a global marketplace, we need to have a workplace that is able to mobilize, develop and grow a diverse population of employees engaged in generating new ideas and working together regardless of gender, age, location, language, religion, sexual orientation or social background.
The ability to manage a diverse workforce enables Ingersoll Rand to drive innovation, achieve greater productivity, and offer our customers a more efficient and effective service. Moreover, having a progressive, diverse and inclusive strategy is not only a business imperative; it is also a social and ethical responsibility embedded in our core values.
As we mentioned, we also recognize the value of diversity in our supply chain and our Supplier Diversity Program includes minority-owned, women-owned and veteran-owned businesses, both large and small. Our procurement teams have direct responsibility for searching for and negotiating with suitably qualified diverse-owned businesses in their portfolio of suppliers.
What were the milestones of this journey to create your Progressive, Diverse and Inclusive culture?
Our PDI efforts are in the process of being rolled out globally but we are still in the early stages of what is typically a 5 to 7 year journey for many companies.
We would like to highlight two important milestones. This journey started in 2012 in EMEA with a pilot of the Women Leadership Program. The objective of this pilot was to increase the number of women in decision making roles in an “engineering-oriented company” like ours. The pilot included 12 women from different sectors. In order to prepare these women for leadership roles a number of supporting actions like training, mentoring and coaching were put in place.
On May 8, 2012 Anna Navarro, Elisabetta Senes and myself (Fanny) organised, in our Brussels office, an event on the theme of diversity and inclusion, gathering also external experts. This event was organised within the context of our Women Leadership Pilot Program and aimed to develop recommendations to our senior management about the creation of a PDI council in EMEA.
This event gathered several Ingersoll Rand representatives and 16 expert representatives from well-known enterprises - like Shell, Accenture, IBM, Bridgestone, the University of Hasselt and the European Commission - who were invited to share their knowledge, experience and best practices in this very important area.
During the event we discussed the definition of Diversity and Inclusion defined by each participating organisation; we assessed our priorities, and we shared our current or planned D&I projects and our available ‘best practices’.
We also debated about the possible metrics (available or potential) to quantify the implementation of diversity and inclusion measures, and the effectiveness of their related projects. We also took time to assess the efforts made so far in the name of Diversity and Inclusion and to agree on recommendations to continue in this direction.
All participants agreed that it was a very successful event where everybody who participated felt passionately about the topic. Ingersoll Rand participants also learned that although PDI is much broader than the classic ‘diversity’ concept we were using, other companies had already developed this idea, and were willing to share their experiences, which we could use to enrich our own definition.
Could you please provide us with some examples of PDI initiatives already put in place? Have you started with a dedicated program?
Our Women’s Leadership Program is an example of a proactive approach designed to ensure we are providing an opportunity for women to develop and be in the position to take up leadership roles. This includes monthly events to encourage women to meet and network within the organization. In some of these events we have invited female employees to speak about their career and share their experiences.
In the pipeline are plans to roll-out this program to other regions.
Other initiatives also include the evaluation of adaptations/improvement of other mechanisms like the creation of more mobility and more global way of working. Last December we rolled out flexible workplace guidelines; a tangible improvement when comparing the situation to the previous year.
We also held focus groups around ‘topics for women professionals’ in countries like Ireland, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, France, and Belgium. In these groups male and female employees were encouraged to discuss their individual perspectives on D&I, being happy at work, and their ideas about the pace and scope of the PDI program. This had a very positive return.
Several employee resource groups have been established during the last months, facilitating a truly progressive, diverse and inclusive work environment.
What are the major prerequisites for ensuring the PDI approach is successful?
What are the key benefits that Ingersoll Rand has already realized from this Progressive, Diverse and Inclusive approach?
Leadership commitment is the most critical prerequisite. Additionally it is necessary to ensure the early intervention of a dedicated team to facilitate awareness and support the execution of the various key initiatives.
Let us provide you with some hints of the initial benefits of the PDI strategy:
- Overall the PDI strategy and approach have been appreciated; employees consider it is important that something of this nature is happening in our company.
- It is too early to see outcomes at this time, but diversity and inclusion is now a topic of discussion within our organization - awareness is being created.
- Even if we are in the very early stages we are seeing that leaders are being more thoughtful in their succession plans. Also, we are seeing more diverse recruitment in the selection of candidates.
- We also consider it a benefit to share our experience of D&I with other organisations, and with the other members of PWI Brussels.
- Some of our groups have developed business solutions and recommendations that are in the process of being implemented.
- Our Women’s Leadership Program led to the creation of a women’s employee resource group.
- Action learning projects managed by a cross department/cross business unit led to recommendations to improve business operations.
We are proud of our PDI program and we’re sure that it will have a tremendous impact on the business. Ultimately the most important measure of the success of our PDI strategy are the business results!
We think it is important to highlight that, even if the Chief Diversity Officer reports to HR, mainly these initiatives are driven by the business lines, HR is a partner in this journey. This means that we brought the PDI approach into our daily work and being a commercial unit, we extended this approach into our customer transactions.
Organizationally speaking, who ensures this approach is bought in at all levels? Who is in charge of leading it?
We have a Chief Diversity Officer in place who reports directly to the head of HR and reports indirectly to the CEO. As with any cultural change the key is to have agents of change throughout the organization, to lead and promote initiatives that strengthen this PDI strategy. We are only successful when PDI becomes part of our company’s DNA.
What have you learned both professionally and personally from this PDI approach?
Fanny – Leading the action learning project around PDI for Ingersoll Rand EMEA enriched my knowledge and understanding of the topic. During the journey I have met great people, passionate about the topic and very engaged in supporting us in the journey.
Maria – I have learned that when women are “genuinely connected”, they increase their potential and they can transfer that ability to connect and increase their potential into the business environment.
Additionally, I was touched by the “authentic” attitude of the women involved in the PDI program; I really think that there is a great benefit to the company culture when women bring authenticity to work.
Fanny Verhauwaert is Managing Director at Thermo King Transportkoeling BV, the corporate dealer of Thermo King in the Netherlands, part of Ingersoll Rand. She is responsible for the financial results, operational management and strategic development of the organization since February 2013.
Fanny has obtained a master degree in TQM at the University of Hasselt, a master's degree in marketing & advertising at the Solvay Business School and completed a post graduate degree in corporate finance at the University of Leuven.
Fanny is an internationally oriented professional with experience in various sectors and functional areas such as general management, change management and 'channel' development.
Since February 2012 she is a volunteer at ToolBox, where she guides nonprofit organizations in general management topics.
She is a passionate person, enthusiastic, result-oriented but always with a sincere interest for the other.
Maria Lucena Gómez is an Associate General Counsel responsible for Legal matters for the Ingersoll Rand Industrial Technologies Sector. She is also serving as leader of the Ingersoll Rand EMEA Women Network since September 2012.
Prior to her current role she has served as Legal Counsel for the Climate Solutions business in Northern Europe and as Legal Counsel of International Companies such as Rockwell Automation European Headquarters in Brussels.
Maria is a Venezuelan and Belgian national and is a qualified lawyer, she moved to Belgium in 2002, where she further expanded her legal education in European and Comparative Law at Ghent University.
Maria is an honorary alumni member of AIESEC, the world largest student organization where she developed her interest in youth, technological and gender issues. She served in various youth development projects for AESEC in Bogotá, Lima, and Brussels and for the World Intellectual Property Organization in Geneva.
Thermo King Transportkoeling B.V.
Climate Solutions - Ingersoll Rand
3084 CB Rotterdam
Direct Office line: +31(0)104104102
|Maria Lucena Gómez
Associate General Counsel – Industrial technologies Sector
Leader of the Ingersoll Rand Women Network in Europe Middle East Africa (EMEA)
Alma Court Building
Lenneke Marelaan 6
1932 Sint Stevens Woluwe
Direct Office line: +32 2 746 1135
Any views and opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Ingersoll Rand, nor do they constitute a legally binding agreement.