Everyone Can Bring Their Authentic Selves to Work
June 03, 2021
4 min read
At Trane Technologies, celebration days and months are the ideal time to reflect on the progress we’ve made in cultivating an inclusive work culture. They also give us the chance to reaffirm our commitments to advancing diversity and inclusion. Our journey as a top diverse employer continues daily and celebrations like Pride month provide the perfect opportunity to honor diversity and advance inclusion.
As we observe LGBTQ Pride Month, we reflect on “how far we’ve come as a society, and how far we still have to go,” said Christin Anniannis, director of health & safety at Trane Technologies and co-chair of PRIDE, our employee resource group (ERG) for LGBTQ people and their allies.
Trane Technologies’ PRIDE employee resource group (ERG) provides support to LGBTQ people, raises awareness around the struggles in the LGBTQ community, and engages employees through education and celebration.
“The ERG also shows how allies play an important role in helping everyone feel safe at work,” she added. “Only a relatively small percentage of the general population is LGBTQ, so we need allies willing to align with us and help advocate for equal rights and fair treatment.”
“We’re fostering an inclusive environment, where employees can bring their authentic selves to work,” said Denise Rodgers, sales administrator and regional inclusion network leader in our Commercial HVAC office in Austin, Texas, and co-chair of PRIDE. “This is why we celebrate.”
When Denise first joined our company in 2016, she’d heard about Trane Technologies’ eight employee resource groups that reflect the diversity of our workforce around the globe. The groups function at the enterprise level with local chapters in Trane Technologies locations around the world.
“However, in the Texas and North Louisiana region, we didn’t have any local ERG chapters at the time,” she said. “Inclusion wasn’t a big topic of discussion. I reached out to my Human Resources manager to see how I could help. Local leaders knew they needed ERGs but didn’t know how to get started.”
So Denise took the bull by the horns, with her leaders’ support, and began changing the inclusion landscape in her region. She joined PRIDE at the enterprise level, landed a spot on the steering committee and started the Texas and North Louisiana chapter of PRIDE. Her role shifted from solely sales administration to also include leading inclusion networks in the region. Denise has since launched 25 more ERG chapters in the region and has become co-chair of PRIDE.
Embracing differences and valuing the opinions and contributions of each person help us achieve better outcomes – from innovation to employee engagement to the bottom line.
Our PRIDE ERG sheds light on the challenges our LGBTQ colleagues may face: Fear of discrimination or harassment, feelings of vulnerability, and the urge to remain hidden, leading to stress and anxiety and a host of other challenges.
A study by the Human Rights Campaign found that 46% of LGBTQ workers are closeted at work, intentionally hiding their sexual orientation or gender identity. Survey respondents’ reasons for not being open at work include the possibilities of being stereotyped, making people feel uncomfortable and losing relationships with coworkers, among others.
As a result of experiencing a negative workplace environment or feeling compelled to be closeted, 31% of survey respondents felt unhappy or stressed at work; 28% lied about their personal lives; 25% felt distracted from their work; and 17% were exhausted from spending time and energy hiding their sexual orientation.
Christin has firsthand experience with the effects of remaining hidden. Early in her career at another company, she didn’t feel comfortable revealing her sexual orientation at work. She remembers spending a lot of energy covering, also called masking. Christin describes masking as a survival skill to hide one’s true self to avoid rejection and harassment.
A presentation at the Out and Equal 2020 Conference shared that 61% of the general population spends most of its time and energy masking; whereas that number jumps to 83% in the LGBTQ community.
“Hiding who you really are forces you into fight or flight mode and, research shows, dramatically reduces your productivity at work,” Christin said. “It’s exhausting to spend so much energy covering who you really are – it wears on you and prevents you from being your best self and doing your best work.”
Christin Anniannis, director of health & safety at Trane Technologies and co-chair of PRIDE
Christin says working at Trane Technologies is different. “Our inclusive culture sets us apart from the other manufacturing companies I’ve worked for,” she said. “Trane Technologies cultivates inclusivity from the very top, with inclusion baked into our strategy and leadership principles, such as include and uplift one another, and leaders who walk the talk.”
The company also holds unconscious bias training, hosts Bridging Connections, a series of courageous conversations around diversity and invites employees to participate in the CEO Day of Understanding and embrace and examine the Dimensions of Diversity that connect us all.
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 and achieve bold goals.
“The cost of not being able to bring our authentic selves to work is too great,” Denise said. “People suffer; relationships and teamwork are strained; and career development is limited.
“Conversely, embracing differences and valuing the opinions and contributions of each person help us achieve better outcomes – from innovation to employee engagement to the bottom line. I feel fortunate to work for a company where I can help give a voice to people who might feel like they don’t have one.”
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