Be Proudly You

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Nancy Dragone, VP of talent management with oversight of inclusion and diversity at TE Connectivity, explores how the company’s inclusion and diversity programme focusing on employees’ true selves is becoming a driving force for innovation and business success

Roughly 20 years ago, when I started my career, I sat in diversity training; I started that company’s first diversity council; I attended a session to better understand how to quantify the return-on-investment of diversity; and we wrestled with the true culture and behavioural change of building a truly inclusive organisation.

While many of these same conversations and efforts continue to exist at so many companies, the dialogue has shifted in numerous ways. External social and political forces have elevated the dialogue and expectations of companies. Inclusion and diversity have clearly become a business imperative, and organisations that understand this will garner the executive sponsorship we all know is so critical for success.

Success at my company, TE Connectivity – a global leader in connectors and sensors that are the backbone of the technology that makes the world a safer, sustainable, productive and connected place – is driven by innovation. I recently heard one of our general managers cite well-known research that highly diverse and inclusive teams outperform, both in terms of innovation and financial targets. This higher performance and innovation, however, require team members to have a sense of belonging. When people feel valued and included, they are empowered to speak up, collaborate and engage for greater productivity.

At TE, we talk about our inclusion and diversity journey. It has been many years in the making and each year it feels like we are gaining momentum. Three years ago, we recognised the importance of belonging and rolled out a campaign called You Belong Here, Be Proudly You. We want every employee to feel comfortable being themself at work. We measure this with an engagement and inclusion index in our annual Every Voice Counts engagement survey, so that we can continually monitor the level of authenticity employees feel across all regions and demographic groups. We are deeply committed to a workforce where all employees are engaged, feel their differences are valued and mutually respected, and where every opinion counts.

I was delighted to see our inclusion and diversity efforts recognised when TE was ranked among America’s best employers for diversity following an independent survey of US workers by Forbes. This achievement reflects the ongoing commitment from both our leadership and employees to ensure diversity and inclusion is built into every aspect of our business.

In recent years, we have put hundreds of women and African Heritage talent through leadership development programmes; we implemented global inclusion training for all 80,000 employees, offering an opportunity to assess their inclusive behaviours; we established FLEX, our global workplace flexibility guidelines; we have grown our number of employee resource groups and membership across the globe to support efforts around recruitment, retention and community outreach; and we have initiated an all-gender bathroom across our sites; and much more. While these have impact, we are also changing the dialogue on I&D. We began Conversations of Understanding as a way to foster shared understanding of differences and a safe space to talk about race and inequalities. We’re seeing early success in our I&D journey. Engagement scores have increased by 30 points and the percentage of women in management has doubled over the past 10 years.

True culture change takes years. So, while I am encouraged by our progress, we still have a long way to go on our journey. I have always made it clear that I&D work is ongoing and requires integration in business practices and involvement at all levels of an organisation. We are accelerating this by considering I&D from a truly global perspective, brainstorming ways to penetrate the vast majority of our population who work in a plant environment in deeper, more meaningful, ways – mindful of what inclusion looks like in this new world of work where we embrace a hybrid workforce post-Covid.

At TE Connectivity, I see the commitment to further us on this journey, and I am so encouraged by every person who is being proudly you and showing up each day to make our organisation, the communities in which we work and the world around us a more inclusive place.