Ecolab: Harnessing the Power of Connection – Inclusive Leadership Unlocks Next Level Belonging

Last fall, I had the privilege of bringing the heads of our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) together for a two-day leadership summit. The purpose was annual planning, valuable time with executive sponsors and of course, collaboration. The outcome was focus, passion, commitment, energy and fellowship.

I was pleased, but not surprised, at the level of their preparedness and engagement. The thoughtfulness of their questions. The wealth of their collective experiences and diversity of their backgrounds. I couldn’t help but think what we can achieve as we harness their power. Power in the belief that they have the ability to affect change. To have meaningful impact. When supported, genuinely and consistently, the power of the voices of these leaders – their influence and contribution to the health of our culture, a powerful index – is next level. They have the power to connect and galvanize.

It was a compelling reminder of the purpose of my work and why I’ve chosen to do what I do. This is my team’s role in our growth and success. To guide our diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts and to steward our goals and commitments. To create connection.

In doing so, I believe there are several fundamental tenets.

  • Creating safe spaces for diversity of expression and thought is to extend grace to one another. To not only hear, but to appreciate.
  • Creating a world in which we all thrive, begins with fostering a culture of belonging in which we all thrive. Doing the right thing the right way, means that we must practice inclusivity – rigorously, and every day.
  • Growing our impact requires that we relentlessly pursue our DEI impact goals and that the diversity of our team and perspectives must be as diverse as the customers and suppliers we work with.
  • Our ESG efforts are considered best in class for our sector and our social commitments – rooted in DEI – are a fundamental component. They are clear business drivers. That means that getting DEI right is important to our investors, which means it is vital to our growth.
  • Purposefully investing in a thriving culture that honors inclusion and belonging is essential to being a purpose-driven company.
  • Being people-driven means prizing people-driven leaders.

Ecolab has spent the last 100 years grounded in unwavering values. As we enter our next 100 years, we do so grounded in those same values – with even greater clarity of purpose and mission.

For DEI, that will mean developing authentically inclusive leaders across our entire organization and around the world. The DEI team, our ERGs and our allies work globally and will continue to be highly engaged, create pathways for connection and lead with passion. However, we serve as the compass, not the map. It is the responsibility of every leader at every level of our organization to understand and model our values within their divisions and teams. Everyone has a role to play, in where we’re heading and how we get there.

This is a calling for me. I believe in the potential of people and that all people are inherently good. As a community of DEI executives and practitioners, we won’t be perfect and won’t always get it right the first time, but our greatest priority is to provide the guidance and opportunities that enable people to be their best.

To future leaders, I would say that inclusive leadership is both an art and a science, but mostly it is simply about humanity. Resist the need to overthink or overcomplicate. Stay real and be yourself first. Let people see you. Demonstrate vulnerability and build trust. And, if you ground yourself in being thoughtful and intentional about HOW individuals are included, you will achieve the ultimate goal of – belonging.

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