Min Cai, Carmen Cassidy and Suelen Moraes. Photos courtesy of Weir ESCO.
Breaking biases in the workplace is instrumental to creating a culture of belonging that is diverse, equitable and inclusive. In fact, #BreakTheBias was the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day.
Of course, breaking biases is not something that can be done in a day; it is a continuous journey of improvement and bettering your company and its culture. Weir ESCO is one company that knows the importance of always striving to build a better, more inclusive culture. They’re achieving this through dedicated efforts, including:
Implementing unconscious bias training with active engagement from employees and managers.
Enabling allies and supporters to be more involved in their Weir Women’s Network (WWN) and Weir Pride Alliance (WPA) affinity groups, which provides employees with development opportunities and a network of inspiring Weir women.
Launching a Global Inclusion & Diversity (I&D) Steering Committee as part of a larger Weir business to deliver objectives designed to affect company-wide change.
Participating in university career fairs, which is a big part of their early career recruiting strategy. They actively partner with universities that have shared commitments to creating a diverse student population.
Creating strong relationships with on-campus Society of Women Engineering groups and seeking out opportunities to join the conversation with like-minded women on platforms such as Fairygodboss.
And, not only is Weir ESCO supporting DE&I efforts on an organization-wide scale, but individual employees at Weir ESCO are instrumental in the company’s ability to make meaningful progress toward their shared objective of a more equitable workplace.
Here, we reached out to three of the women at Weir ESCO who are truly making a difference and breaking biases all year long — Min Cai, North America Demand Planner; Carmen Cassidy, Area Manager of New Zealand; and Suelen Moraes, a member of the HR team in Brazil. Here is what they had to say.
How can you break biases on an individual basis, and what does this really mean? Cai has relied on two critical skills to help her break down barriers in the workplace: listening and learning from others.
“#BreakTheBias at work means a workplace free of stereotypes and discrimination, where differences are valued and celebrated,” explains Cai. “To have a more inclusive workplace, we need to engage people with different backgrounds in conversations and seek input from them, hear their stories and be mindful of different cultural norms, time zones and more when including them in conversations.”
Cassidy adds, “bias can make it difficult for women to move ahead. We need to recognize it as still an issue in 2022 and take united action. I want to become a role model for my teenage daughter and have her workplace be gender equal.”
And, for Moraes, breaking the bias expands beyond the work environment. To her, breaking the bias means changing people’s mindsets and behaviors to “make them more open to the diversity that exists in the world.” We can change the world for the better by including and understanding historically underrepresented groups, and ensuring respect and opportunity.
“The more open we are to practicing and promoting inclusion and diversity, the more different and encouraging thoughts we will have, and, with this, we’ll have access to more technical capabilities and diverse insights, helping to improve and continuously grow the business,” concludes Moraes.
There are many ways you can help elevate other women at work. To begin, you can take part in women-focused DE&I or affinity groups (also known as employee resource groups, or ERGs) within your company. For example, Cassidy takes part in Weir Women’s Network (WWN). As part of this, “once a month, all women across all levels of the business are invited to meet and collaborate on a variety of topics that women face in the workplace,” explains Cassidy. “I am inspired by the women we have in our network and company, and I hope they, in turn, are inspired by me.”
Moraes also takes part in her local women’s network chapter. When describing her experience in Brazil, she says, “Not only is the group important to the company and leaders, [but] I learn from every opportunity and apply it in my daily life,” adds Moraes.
And, you can help out other women on a more personal level, too. “One way that I have used my role to help bring up other women is to share knowledge and skills with them — even if that’s outside my work responsibility,” shares Cai. “It is very rewarding when it helps them improve their work or process.” Cai also takes the time to provide well-being and emotional support, as needed, and to encourage other women to pursue their career goals. Similarly, Cassidy also makes time in her calendar to teach others, and is building coaching sessions into her day-to-day schedule for other women on her team.
Weir ESCO supports women through “dedicated initiatives and valuing their employees,” which includes executive support, shares Moraes.
Cai also credits the women’s network, along with the genuinely and generously supportive people, as the reasons why she feels “very fortunate” to work at the company. “The WWN has organized many events to build a network of support for women in the company; created safe environments for women to connect, share stories, celebrate successes; and provided resources to help women grow professionally and personally,” explains Cai. “We also have women in different levels of management, which is very encouraging to see.”
Cassidy also emphasizes the importance of the dedicated women’s network. Further, she shares how the company recognizes everyone’s hard work and, “will elevate you, regardless of your gender.” While Weir ESCO is still early on their journey, “our company continues to promote, hire and retain more women, while elevating women in business,” Cassidy shares.
If you are interested in improving your own company’s ERG and DE&I efforts, our colleagues offer a few tips:
Make sure that employee resource groups are led and organized by employees that truly believe in the mission — and that these groups are supported by upper management (Cai).
When you provide training on diversity, inclusion and equity, be sure to expand your focus beyond just gender bias. Also, training with realistic situations and providing pathways for allies are crucial (Cassidy).
Consider a “blind” selection of CVs, where the first selection stage considers the candidate's competences, but does not consider gender, age, marital status or other factors that can generate bias or prejudice (Moraes).
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