Ashley Watson joined Danfoss in June 2021 as the Director of Diversity & Inclusion (D&I), following 15 years of experience and progressive leadership at the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Her initiatives include Inclusive Insights dialogue sessions, Courageous Conversations on societal and culture topics, and Employee Resource Groups. In January 2022, Ashley accepted the role of Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion in January 2022 and is accelerating the organization’s ESG ambitions and continuing to deliver an engaging employee experience that values and respects differences.
Host Vic Marinich, global marketing director for air conditioning at Danfoss, is joined by Ashley Watson, global head of diversity and inclusion at Danfoss, to discuss how companies can build an inclusive culture, how diversity, equity and inclusion contribute to long-term success and the role of employee resource groups.
- To build a diverse and inclusive organization, we have to move from being comfortable to being uncomfortable. We need to be innovative.
- Diversity and inclusion can seem overwhelming because we don’t always know where to start.
- Listen to employees and gauge where leadership is. Support from leadership is essential. If the passion is there, it will cascade down across the entire organization.
- D&I leaders also need to gain the trust of employees in order to drive the agenda and messaging for the organization. Be honest and transparent.
- Diversity and inclusion should be part of any company’s ESG goals because the social component focuses on the people. We need to make sure we are treating people fairly and are accessible regardless of anyone’s background. In order to drive your business, you need your people.
- The pandemic has shifted thinking. We now have flexible work arrangements and leadership recognizes the need to make sure people are safe.
- It’s really important for companies to start to look at their business. How can they be forward-thinking and are they attracting the skill sets and talents that will sustain the organization in the future?
- Statistics show that future employees are looking for an organization that is purpose-driven and makes an impact. They want to make a difference. Organizations need to look at their portfolio and ask themselves what they are doing for the betterment of humanity.
- Future employees want to see people who look like them so they can aspire to be in high-level positions. Representation is critical. You need to make sure you have a diverse promotional plan so that you are retaining the skill sets you need.
- Employee resource groups are very important. They are employee communities within an organization that share a common experience or a thought process. This is how organizations can emphasize the equity piece in their journey and make sure that all voices are being amplified in the organization. ERGs help us to identify any barriers so we can address them.
- ERGs have helped with creating cultural awareness, especially in the sense where they have diverse teams connecting with one another and showing how we can come from different backgrounds but at some point, we have some similarities where we can connect and have a common bond.
- ERGs are a big attraction for employees who are looking to come to your organization. 70% of Gen Z want to see ERGs in your because it reflects representation and shows that the organization values folks of these different communities. It creates that sense of belonging.
- Start by listening to your employees and asking what groups they want to see or communities you want to see formed in the organization Include everyone at all levels of the organization. Employees need to be invested and it can’t come from the D&I staff; it needs to come from everyone.
- But don’t go too big. It’s great to be ambitious, but you don’t want to have too many groups to the point where you cannot monitor. Make sure you have enough that’s measurable so you can give them the proper support that’s needed so they can thrive and be supported.
- Measure the success of their initiatives. It can be hard to measure behavior because that’s always a moving target. One tool you can use is an annual employee survey and measure the employee inclusion index by asking about their experience and thoughts on DE&I. It’s helpful to set a benchmark so you can set the next score that you want to try to achieve.
- It’s important to look at the entire employee life cycle, from recruitment to retirement or whenever an employee moves on. Diversity and inclusion touches everything. In order to have diverse management teams, we need to alleviate any systemic barriers.
- Be mindful of creating a message of inclusion without excluding the majority. You want to get them on board as allies so look at teams across the board to ensure that you have diversity present that’s visible and non-visible.
- As an organization, cultural competency is essential. What we do is not going to fit the same everywhere. At the global level, lay down the roadmap but allow regions and segments to have the flexibility to massage how to execute based on the needs of the demographics in the region.
For more advice on incorporating DEI principles into recruitment practices, see https://hrdailyadvisor.blr.com/2022/01/12/best-practices-for-improving-dei-recruitment-in-2022/
To learn more about DEI at Danfoss, visit https://www.danfoss.com/en/about-danfoss/company/sustainability/diversity-and-inclusion/
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For more information and additional episodes of the EnVisioneering Exchange podcast, visit https://www.danfoss.com/en-us/about-danfoss/insights-for-tomorrow/envisioneering-exchange/