“We always ask members where they need more education, resources, and tools. We continue to take our work to the next level by tapping into those areas to benefit Black employees and their families.”
BEN recently won Trane Technologies’ Corporate President’s Award for a financial education series developed for members.
“We partnered with Fidelity to provide a four-part workshop financial series. The classes in this program addressed, retirement planning, purchasing a home, credit building, end-of-life planning, and investing,” said Kenyetta.
Thanks to the series, more than 200 employees expanded their financial literacy, many scheduled financial advisor sessions, increased 401(k) contributions, reallocated assets to prepare for retirement, and are more aware of available financial services. And BEN membership increased 12%. Along with these helpful programs, activities and events, BEN supports career development, which is extremely valuable as companies push for more Black employees in leadership roles.
McKinsey found that Black workers make up just 7% of the managerial workforce, and the higher you go, the fewer Black professionals you see.
“Every year, we try to select 10 to 20 members interested in career development, and we connect them with a senior leader, allowing Black employees to get in front of leaders and talk about their career aspirations. It gives the employee more visibility to senior leaders and an opportunity to work with a leader to formulate a good development plan to help them reach their career goals,” added Kenyetta.
Visibility matters for black employees. Korn Ferry research reveals that nearly 60% of the Black executives who oversee major lines of business at Fortune 500 companies felt they had to work twice as hard —and accomplish twice as much—to be seen on the same level as their colleagues. Getting in front of leaders gives them more opportunity to be promoted for roles that are otherwise harder for them to obtain.
Working in the community
BEN has taken the lead among ERGs at Trane Technologies in the development of partnerships with community organizations that lead to demonstrable community and business impact.
“Our first partnership was with Crisis Assistance Ministries. To support them, we hosted a clothing drive where employees could donate their professional clothing—placing them in the barrels we set up over campus. The barrels were always over-filled with clothing," shared Aenis Harris, vice president, human resources, Thermo King Americas and former co-chair of BEN. “We also supported a shoe drive where employees donated their shoes to a nonprofit organization called Samaritans Feet. They're still receiving shoes from our employees to this day."
The donations are just one area where BEN has helped us make a difference in our communities. Five years ago, BEN began a partnership with the Urban League of Central Carolinas (ULCC), a historic civil rights and urban advocacy organization. Supporting the HVAC Training Program is a significant component of this partnership. The 16-week curriculum focuses on the knowledge and hands-on skills needed to be ready for certification and immediate entry-level employment following completion of the program.
“The program helps people establish, maintain and grow impactful careers, so our partnership is an opportunity for us to pay it forward in the community,” added Aenis. “We’ve donated $400,000 in grant money to support the program. This partnership is also another way to advance the company’s diversity recruiting efforts.”
The Bureau of Labor and Statistics projects an average of 40,100 job openings in HVAC, each year, over the next decade. Today, Black workers only make up 8.0% of the HVAC industry. By supporting the ULCC’s HVAC Training Program, BEN is helping increase Black representation.
Along with funding, BEN has provided volunteer services, including resume writing and mock interview support to the ULCC. The partnership supports the company’s corporate citizenship strategy.
Shaping the business