PROMOTING DIVERSITY - In the workplace
By the Editorial staff
It is now well known that for companies, diversity and inclusion are 'business levers' that create competitive advantages. Workplaces where diversity is reflected in management practices are more innovative and profitable, as McKinsey's annual research has been pointing out for some time (the latest: ‘Diversity wins: How inclusion matters in 2020’). And in an HBR article, Todd L. Pittinsky, an academic and author specialising in diversity in the workplace, suggests that prejudice stifles creativity.
Baker Hughes, which has operations around the world, has a global and inclusive working environment that values diverse talents, backgrounds and experiences to drive innovation and growth. For us, having diversity of perspectives is a strength and we seek to stimulate forward thinking to achieve innovative business outcomes that support our global customers. Baker Hughes is a multinational energy technology company that provides solutions for energy and industrial customers in over 120 countries. In Italy Baker Hughes is present in six regions and has over 5,000 employees in production facilities in Florence, Massa, Bari, Talamona, Vibo Valentia, Casavatore, one site for the assembly of large industrial modules in Avenza and other business activities in Pescara. Florence is home to the global headquarters of the TPS (Turbomachinery & Process Solutions) business, as well as the centre of our R&D activity. As an energy technology company, Baker Hughes' mission is to provide innovative technologies and services that support the development of energy by making it safer, cleaner and more efficient for people and the planet.
At Baker Hughes we strive to create an inclusive environment where employees feel safe, engaged and free to create, innovate and find technology solutions for the energy transition, such as hydrogen, CCUS (carbon capture, utilisation and storage) and clean power. At Baker Hughes, diversity is fundamental to innovation. We look for and value differences in people in terms of thinking, experiences, ethnicity, age, gender, religious belief, personality, sexual orientation and disability. Working on energy transition, we understand the importance of sustainability and inclusion: we need diverse skills to research technology that supports the decarbonisation process. What we are looking for are mechanical, digital, electrical, chemical and civil engineers, as well as energy experts in service/engineering/project management/procurement and skilled workers and site technicians. The wealth of different skills, experiences and abilities of our employees is what drives our company forward and enables us to achieve our goal of Taking Energy Forward. Although there is no quick fix for creating diversity in the workplace, it is certainly possible to embark on a path towards it. Recognising that achieving greater diversity in the workplace means shifting prejudices at the individual and organisational level, we can share our experience about how activating certain tools, in combination with skills, shows that it is possible to foster an environment where diversity can flourish.
In addition to having a classic Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion function to promote diversity initiatives and an Executive Committee for Inclusion and Diversity (D&I), we also have Employee Resource Groups, commonly known as ERGs, which are an important element of our D&I policy. These groups bring together like-minded people and implement many initiatives. In Italy, for example, the main active ERGs are: Pride@work, Women's Network, Enabled, Multicultural and the latest, Renew, which is dedicated to sustainability issues. Their main objective is to promote a diverse and inclusive working environment, to create communities, organise mentoring, networking and professional development activities, to collaborate with the communities in which we operate and to help attract talent.
The talent management approach can facilitate the integration of the right skills that go towards creating diversity in the workplace. Thanks to strategic partnerships with universities, BH has a large talent pool to draw from. In Italy we collaborate with universities, primary and secondary schools and support various programmes to support women's careers in the STEM area. Through the Baker Hughes Foundation, we are committed to advancing STEM education worldwide. One example is our long-standing partnership with FIRST Global to promote STEM opportunities with a focus on women and disadvantaged populations. The FIRST Global Challenge programme involves teams of students with their mentors, who are Baker Hughes volunteers, in designing and building robots to compete in tournaments.
In this journey, students develop a wide range of skills including project management, fundraising, programming, engineering and teamwork. In 2019, the First Global Challenge involved over 2,500 students and 800 volunteers in 191 countries. And speaking of talent and skills, smart working or agile working is also experienced as a tool where employees can express themselves with their preferred tools, when and where they choose to. This approach to work found fertile ground at Baker Hughes, even before the pandemic, demonstrating how different needs and individualities are appreciated and everyone is given the opportunity to express their talents. Its implementation requires reorganising work and, above all, a management style based on trust and responsibility. Another useful aspect is to consider Diversity Management and Global Inclusion key competences to be included in the ideal profiles of many managerial roles so these are expressed daily. We have outlined KPIs for People Leaders which, in 2020, focused on three areas: training, e.g. on unconscious bias, guidelines for making the selection process inclusive, encouraging employee involvement in ERGs. In short, the ability to be inclusive and to seek different points of view is a key competence for success at Baker Hughes, to the extent that it is formally assessed against the objective of creating an inclusive environment.
Promoting a competence such as 'valuing diversity' at every level and in every position can also make a difference and is a strong statement about the organisation's commitment to diversity. It also enables the organisation to measure its progress and evaluate its employees’ ability to encourage behaviour that embraces new perspectives and encourages social cohesion. And competencies offer a powerful way to change and strengthen the organisational culture because they define and address, in behavioural terms, the values and strengths that each employee must demonstrate to differentiate the organisation in a competitive market. Baker Hughes is characterised as a community with a shared value system that translates into behaviours such as collaboration, commitment, leadership and growth. Sustainability is well rooted in Baker Hughes' strategy so Diversity and Inclusion are also key factors in the company's actions in the community.
Another important aspect, with a view to growth and progress, in the field of D&I is the dialogue with stakeholders. For this reason, BH joins associations and participates in intercompany initiatives and benchmarks in every country in which it operates, in order to share best practices and identify common actions in the field of D&I. In Italy, for example, we are associates and active members of Parks, Valore D, ForAll and DiverCity Magazine. Participating in the activities of the local communities in which we operate is also an important aspect of our work. Being involved through volunteering and collaboration helps us to give back to others and learn from them. So as well as developing energy technology solutions that make energy safer, cleaner and more efficient for people and the planet, we also develop the energy of conviviality by working with people in communities in their diversity and nurture both our passion for innovation and our mission of Taking energy forward.