3 minute read

ALLY ADVOCACY CIRCLES foster equity and inclusion

By Drew Horansky

Like many people during COVID, Chris Mancuso spent a lot of time on Teams—and there is one call he will never forget. It was 2020 when his daughter Kylie, 8, had wandered into their home office only to note the faces on the computer screen.

“You work with a bunch of guys!” she said, before asking, “Do you think Eaton would ever let me work there?”

Eaton, a global intelligent power management company of more than 90,000 employees, has been well-recognized for its commitment to inclusion and diversity. More than two-thirds of the company’s directors are women and U.S. minorities, while U.S. minorities comprise 54% of the global leadership team. For the past seven years, Eaton has achieved a 100% on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index (CEI) and was recognized as a Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion. It was named a Mansfield Rule 2.0 Certified Legal Department (MRLD) and achieved MRLD Certification Plus designation, which means Eaton considers at least 50% underrepresented lawyers for leadership roles during interviews and underrepresented lawyers comprise at least 50% of the legal leadership team.

Newsweek recently named it one of America’s Greatest Workplaces for Diversity.

Still, Kylie’s observation was an indication there was more work to do, and Mancuso wanted to get involved. He had heard about ally advocacy circles, which were launched by one of Eaton’s inclusion resource groups, WAVE, which stands for “Women Adding Value at Eaton.” The small, gender-balanced conversations are a way to build company-wide foundational knowledge on the most common types of bias against women and are held in all parts of the world where Eaton operates. Moderated by a woman and a man, participants watch a short video defining the bias and are then asked, “What would you do if you observed this scenario?”

Mancuso, a vice president and general manager, jumped at the opportunity to co-lead one. “I wanted better for my daughter so that she didn’t have to ask those kinds of questions,” he said. “To hear the role that I can play as a leader…we discuss the challenges and biases that people have to fight through every day.”

As a woman, Christina Bosserd, Eaton’s senior vice president of Internal Audit, can relate. Bosserd holds one of the highest positions in the company and will tell you that allyship was instrumental in her journey. “I have had allies and advocates for me—and they have been men,” she said. “Many have been an ally for me even when I’m not in the room, amplifying my voice.”

At the end of the circles, which last only an hour, a moderator will ask, “What commitment will you make to mitigate bias?”

“One group I was on, everyone on the call committed to mentoring someone who was not like them,” said Bosserd. Those conversations also inspired her to go a step further—committing to ensuring that candidates from underrepresented groups are interviewed for open positions on her team.

“To become an inclusive organization, I believe that programs are valuable, but changing hearts and minds is critical,” Bosserd said. “We must have these conversations to truly make a difference.”

Mancuso and Bosserd have seen progress in other ways too. Last year, WAVE set a 2022 goal to have 2,022 people sign up for an ally advocacy circle. By the end of February, there were more than 300 circles surrounding International Women’s Day and the goal had already been met.

Ernest Marshall, Eaton’s executive vice president and chief human resources officer wrote, “I was raised by a strong and faithful mother who instilled in me the importance of being fair, and I want that for my daughters,” after participating in a circle. “I’m committed to this and hope you are as well because together, we can be the difference!”

Between them, Mancuso and Bosserd have now led more than a dozen circles, and after each one, they still like to post pictures on LinkedIn to reflect on and to share with their networks.

“We know diverse teams win,” Mancuso said. “Developing our diverse leaders and talent is critical…if we don’t talk about it, it’s just a PowerPoint slide.”

“Ally advocacy circles show that inclusion and diversity is a pillar of our core values,” Bosserd said. “And people at Eaton are living them.”

*Salaried defined as Eaton salary band 6 and higher. PDJ

There was also a pattern that emerged on social media. During the circles, and with permission from the group, participants would take pictures of their computer screens— which looked a lot different than what Kylie saw on her dad’s screen three years ago. Sharing their images on LinkedIn, Eaton employees made personal observations about the experience and what they learned.

Drew Horansky is a key business partner to Eaton’s global Human Resources, Ethics, and Inclusion and Diversity functions.

Prior to this role he spent 22 years as a journalist reporting locally and internationally. Drew is a graduate of Georgetown University and lives outside Cleveland with his wife and two children.