Jody with her wife Michelle

Celebrating Pride at Trane Technologies

As we celebrate the LGBTQ+ community during Pride month, we're reflecting on the progress we've made, even as we continue cultivating a more inclusive and respectful culture.

At Trane Technologies, celebration days and months are the ideal time to reflect on the progress we’ve made in cultivating an inclusive culture at work. They also give us the chance to reaffirm our commitments to advancing diversity and inclusion.

As we observe LGBTQ+ Pride Month, we reflect on how far we’ve come, even as we have progress to make. Jody Wilkens, vice president of Federal in our Commercial HVAC business, joined the company in 1998 and experienced the changes in our culture firsthand. She also plays an important part in leading the change.

“I didn’t come out as gay early in my career, but after I got married in 2014, I put our wedding photo on my desk at work,” Jody said. “I wasn’t comfortable sharing my sexual orientation before then, but the world is changing for the better, and so is our culture at Trane Technologies. The people I work with are accepting, and everyone has always treated me with respect.”

Jody’s wedding photo inspired a colleague to come out as bisexual and start bringing her authentic self to work, too.

Still work to be done

Jody says vocal acceptance of LGBTQ+ people at the top leadership level is an important catalyst for Trane Technologies’ inclusive culture, but we still have work to do.

“There are still people in parts of the United States—and therefore, likely people in our company—who don’t feel safe coming out, or even walking down the street,” she said. “We need to continue to educate and help people realize members of the LGBTQ+ community are just like everyone else. We’re just trying to get through the day and be happy and successful and have nuclear families.

“It’s been my experience that when you are gay, you are constantly coming out. And that takes courage, especially in the parts of the country that are less accepting. I’m proud to work for a company that supports me and my peers, prioritizes diversity and inclusion and has zero tolerance for discrimination.”

We all benefit when we can bring our authentic selves to work. We’re able to contribute fully to our teams, participate in innovation and use our energy productively to achieve bold goals. We can do our best work when we feel connected, accepted and valued.

Jody and Michelle on their pontoon boat at their cabin.

Jody (left) and her wife, Michelle, on their pontoon boat at their cabin

Often, people are afraid of what they don’t understand. Through events and education all year long, and especially during Pride Month, the PRIDE ERG educates employees on the issues faced by the LGBTQ+ community and makes them more relatable.

Jody Wilkens, vice president of Federal, Trane Commercial HVAC

Raising awareness at work

In addition to leading a team of 60 people helping Trane Commercial HVAC customers reduce their energy consumption and operational costs through energy and performance contracting, Jody serves on the steering committee of Trane Technologies’ PRIDE Employee Resource Group (ERG).

The PRIDE ERG provides support to LGBTQ+ people, raises awareness around the struggles in the LGBTQ+ community, and engages employees through education, resources and celebration. It’s also building a community of allies at Trane Technologies—people who actively support equal rights and fair treatment for members of the LGBTQ+ community.

“Education is a big part of achieving the PRIDE ERG’s mission,” Jody said. Jody also helped lead the PRIDE ERG subcommittee in charge of planning one of the fun, informative and uplifting Pride Month events for employees—a trivia-style game show. 

Jody and her wife, Michelle, with giraffes while on safari in Kenya in late 2021

Jody and Michelle with giraffes while on safari in Kenya in late 2021

“The ERG team is doing a fantastic job,” she said. “The events are moving and emotional, and they’re eye-opening for people not yet exposed to LGBTQ+ people or the issues they face. The ERG is playing an important role in helping shift the culture at Trane Technologies, and I’m proud to be part of it.

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