How integrating a diversity and inclusion strategy has helped IR grow on a global level
When Marcia Avedon, Senior Vice President (SVP) of Human Resources (HR), Communications and Corporate Affairs, joined Ingersol Rand (IR) in 2007, she wanted to make a broad impact on the organization. Avedon worked to fully integrate the HR function and create an efficient group that served as true business partners to the organization.
As a global company trying to compete for talent across the world, diversity and inclusion became a critical component to a successful business strategy—one that virtually did not exist for the organization. Admittedly, Avedon and her fellow business leaders did not even know where to begin to put such strategies in place.
Fortunately, Avedon is a firm believer in the notion that trying new things is how you push yourself to grow. With a background in psychology, she has worked hard at integrating people on multiple levels, both from a tactical and operational standpoint; making sure common tools, systems, and processes are in place; and facilitating a sense of community through communication. So congregating the right group of people on a cross-functional level to tackle diversity and inclusion issues was not out of reach for Avedon. She recently explained to Forefront how she initially tackled this hurdle and is now achieving great success.
“One of the smartest things we did was create a cross-functional team of business leaders who were well regarded within the company, all from different parts of the company and different functions, who seemed to have a passion around this notion of diversity and inclusion,” she explained. “We asked them to help us create a multi-year strategy for the company.”
And so roughly 20 IR business leaders put their heads together and began to examine what the best companies out there were doing and how diversity and inclusion drove value for these companies.
“We found that the more global the company was, the more they had advanced in this area,” she said.
Based on their research, Avedon and her team developed a diversity and inclusion strategy that was very particular to IR’s business strategy, and it focused on three things: creating a progressive work environment in terms of policies and environment; diversity as an attractive quality in a potential hire (hiring people regardless of their race, gender, ethnicity, etc.); and creating an inclusive work culture that promotes full participation from all employees.
In subsequent years, IR has implemented its diversity and inclusion strategy and has been promoting a progressive and inclusive work environment.
“We adjusted head-on some of the barriers that we inadvertently may have had in the way we worked, and we try to do diversity inclusion in a very inclusive way,” Avedon explained. “We make sure it’s front of line and integrated into other strategies of the company, and we do it in a way to make sure diverse people have a voice and work to make us better as a company everyday.”
Stephanie Harris is a freelance writer at Forefront Magazine.