Sponsorship is key so choose to be #EachforEqual
Mary Kim Elkins, Senior Vice President, Eaton
We’ve been on a journey over the last decade to understand and harness the power of inclusion and diversity at Eaton. We strive for equality in our workforce by embracing diversity and focusing on inclusion. These actions are led by our I&D team, global and regional inclusion councils, and active inclusion groups across our worldwide enterprise. I have seen huge progress in how we address inclusion and celebrate diversity, and it makes me proud to be part of a committed organization. In the last decade we have increased the number of women in leadership roles by 6.5 percentage points.
When I think about this year’s IWD theme of #EachforEqual it calls to mind how important it is for women to have sponsors, because it leads to opportunities for which we might not have been considered. I have seen sponsorship serve as one of the most successful catalysts in creating gender equality. It is an intentional decision that opens doors and leads to greater equality.
And the business advantages of sponsoring women are numerous – historically, women have revolutionized the workplace through their perspectives, skills and expectations. We have seen them introduce new approaches to managing people and working in teams. And they often lead the way to new ways of working that support work-life effectiveness, such as alternative and flexible work programs. The importance of sponsoring women can’t be underestimated – they represent half the labor force, earn nearly 60% of bachelor’s degrees and more than 50% of post-graduate degrees.
The most important thing sponsors can do to support career progression for women is to look at their capabilities and resist the urge to make assumptions about a woman’s capacity or desire to progress in her career. It requires courage on both sides of the sponsorship equation to meet people where they are, build a trusting relationship and break through perceived obstacles.
When we take chances on people by presenting them with opportunities, providing coaching and setting them up for success – we are paving the way for a richer, more diverse and gender-equal workplace.