Research over recent decades shows diversity and inclusion are competitive differentiators, beneficial to businesses over time. A 2018 diversity study from McKinsey & Company highlights that,
“…The companies in the top quartile of gender diversity were 15 percent more likely to have financial returns that were above their national industry median. Companies in the top quartile of racial/ethnic diversity were 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their national industry median.”
More diverse organizations are better able to win top talent and improve their customer relationships, employee engagement, and decision making, thus contributing to increasing returns. As businesses commit themselves to diverse leadership, they become more successful.
Recognizing this reality, most global companies have diversity initiatives. After decades of progress toward gender equality in the economy and society, there is still a problematic gap. As highlighted in this December 2019 Forbes article, between 1970 and 1990, women made steady and rapid progress in joining the rank of corporate managers. Since then, however, women have made virtually no progress. As LeanIn.org and McKinsey concluded in their 2018 report on women in the workplace, “Progress isn’t just slow. It’s stalled.”
In a century where women have been increasingly prominent in medicine, law, and business, women still represent a minority in science and engineering professions. Specifically, within the field of engineering, women suffer from social barriers.
The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) is a nonprofit organization with a mission to advance women in engineering. Since 1950, it has compiled research that paints a very telling picture about the state of women in this field.
Their research findings in 2018 show that:
As a global engineering company and the leader in motion and control technologies, Parker has taken extra steps to support inclusion across the organization.
Based on an internal diversity initiative, Parker launched its first business resource group to assist in changing the representation and inclusion of women in the company’s workforce. Named Peer W, the group supports the recruitment, development and retention of women at Parker.
"We have a greater awareness of the alignment of our employee demographics to match the markets that we serve. There's a constructive dialogue around inclusion and a strong recognition of the value of a globally diverse workforce."
Robin Davenport, Vice President of Corporate Finance and Peer W Chair
The mission of Peer W is to cultivate the professional success of women by creating awareness, education, and visibility across Parker’s organization. Peer W provides resources and support for women in all roles across the company. In support of an inclusive environment, business resource groups offer an opportunity for team members to pursue educational opportunities, engage with business leaders and identify opportunities for career growth.
The Peer W business resource group was initially launched at Parker’s headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio. In addition to central leadership for Peer W across all of Parker’s operating groups, decentralized hubs and chapters have been established regionally to host events and programming for Parker team members.
A hub for Northern Ohio was formed first, followed soon by three more hubs covering Southern California, Germany, and the Nordic European countries. Each features activities at their smaller chapters.
Now well-established, the Peer W business resource group is expanding into new regions with new offerings for team members, including the development and recruitment of more women to work at Parker.
Expansion areas have been initiated for:
Each hub hosts a significant launch event, followed by quarterly events, and small monthly meetings organized in local chapters. Quarterly events can attract more than 100 Parker team members who come to hear from leaders outside of and within Parker, as well as network with other team members.
While Peer W is focused on women at Parker, all team members within the organization are welcome to support the initiative. Having strong allies across the organization helps drive the success of Peer W, and all are invited to participate in events and activities. Everyone is needed to make an impactful cultural change.
This year, mentoring circles are being introduced to enhance professional and personal success. The circles connect small groups of team members, rather than the traditional one-to-one mentor/mentee relationship, for more input and information sharing, relationship fostering, and consideration of women’s perspectives in business practices.
Our Nordic region launched their first three mentoring circles with a total of 25 mentees.
In the USA, 25 in-person circles across 9 geographic regions are about to launch. Shortly following the in-person circles will be 20 virtual circles across 90 Parker locations.
Outside the company, Peer W members are now representing Parker at professional associations, career fairs, and recruiting outreach activities that position Parker as a compelling choice for women to work and thrive professionally.
One thing that Peer W hopes to do is to connect women with a variety of resources, people and other related organizations for leadership, growth and development, and industry experience. Diversity Best Practices has a listing of the Women's Organizations You Need to Know
External organizations that are resources for Peer W:
Globally, Peer W members are looking forward to expanding recognition of International Women's Day. This year, on Friday, March 6, Parker facilities will observe International Women's Day (globally observed on Sunday March 8), by hosting Peer W recruitment events, speakers, training, picture booths and other supportive activities. The theme this year is Each for Equal, where an equal world is an enabled world. Please join Parker and Peer W in celebrating this day.
This post was contributed by the Global Steering Team for Peer W within Parker Hannifin Corporation.