Perspectives: Ideas with Impact
Explore transformative ideas, inspiration and insights from Emerson leaders in industrial automation, home comfort and beyond.
Connecting and supporting our LGBTQ+ employees within Europe and beyond?.
Emerson’s LGBTQ + Allies employee resource group chapters?across the globe are demonstrating Emerson’s commitment to creating an inclusive environment. Its chapter in Europe is making strides to expand LGBTQ+ awareness across the region by providing ally training and initiating powerful conversations.
In this feature, we?spotlight?Sabrina Gilman from Emerson Switzerland. Sabrina is the Global Board ERG SharePoint Lead and a member of the Europe chapter of?the LGBTQ + Allies employee resource group, a DE&I initiative focused on LGBTQ+?employees within Europe.?
Tell us?about your role at Emerson.
I have been with Emerson for 11 years now. I have worked for Emerson Corporate in St. Louis and then I spent several years in Minnesota working for the Automation Solutions team. My current role is in Switzerland as Senior Associate General Counsel, where I support all the Automation Solution businesses across Europe with legal issues and I manage a team of lawyers across Eastern Europe. When I moved from the United States to Switzerland, I joined the European LGBTQ + Allies ERG chapter and the Global Board as the ERG SharePoint lead.
Can you tell us about the history of the LGBTQ + Allies ERG chapter in Europe?
We’re in a growth mode and we are evolving. The LGBTQ+ community faces a unique situation in Europe. Some of the countries that Emerson is located in have regulations or cultural barriers that make it difficult to recruit potential members and expand. I would say that is because the history, knowledge and education that has been pushed out in the United States and other countries has not necessarily gone at the same pace in all European countries. In Europe, it is important to recognize that every country is still very unique – you can cross a border only 30 minutes away where there is a different understanding of the difficulties that our LGBTQ+ employees face so it’s not purposefully but rather a lack of understanding and education.
I’m finding that as we continue to grow, conduct more outreach and experience more inclusion practices by our leadership, people are more willing to ask questions. This demonstrates that people are interested in learning and offering support, even if they are just an ally. There has been a big push and we are starting to have great discussions across our many plant and office locations about what it means to be an ally and the ways they can help create an inclusive environment. We are seeing growing interest from various employees and local leaders.
How have you supported other counterparts in other countries?
We offer ally training for any office or plant in our region. We start with a base level of education so that employees can understand perspectives and terminology related to the LGBTQ+ community. The ally training is a really important way that we push the topic forward here in Europe because there are still jurisdictions in certain areas that Emerson operates where it might be difficult for an employee to bring their full self to work. It is critical that we have this firm group of allies around employees so that they recognize that when they are at Emerson, they can be their truest selves. I know that every member of the ERG would like to create an environment where everyone feels included and invited. I also know that is what Emerson’s executive leadership wants.
How do you feel the ally presence is in your region?
I would say our presence is lower than we would like as a result of being in this evolving stage where we are getting information out to those who may not be aware of the opportunity to be an ally. We are planning on really using Pride Month to get a ton of materials out. Our human resources department has been very supportive about helping us share information so we can educate employees on what Pride Month is and what it means to be an ally. We may not have employees that understand that they can join the ERG without being a member of the LGBTQ+ community. To combat this, we have been initiating conversations with all employees to introduce what it means to be an ally.
What is the most valuable reward of being in this group??
First of all, the people and the leaders I am working with. Their energy and enthusiasm about this important cause is infectious. It’s great to work with a group of like-minded individuals who are all trying to grow awareness and create a unique and open environment where we can all bring our whole selves to the office every day.
Personally, I am constantly learning what it means to be an ally. The people in the ERG help me to remain enthusiastic and open. I am an ally so I didn’t grow up with the same experiences as others. I have to put a concerted effort into understanding the difficulties, the barriers and the obstacles so that I can support my friends and colleagues. I love that Emerson is creating a space for employees to do that.
How has Emerson supported you and this ERG?
Emerson leadership has demonstrated that ensuring all employees feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to work is key. In the 11 years I have worked at Emerson I think we have really transformed by creating space, funding efforts, sponsoring opportunities and making Diversity & Inclusion a priority. It’s exciting to be a part of an organization like this. Any company can say things and try to mimic what competitors are doing, but Emerson’s actions are backing the commitments it has stated. We are trying to create an environment where everyone feels welcomed and like they belong. Providing people with concrete tools to do so is so valuable and I’m excited to see that leadership groups and employees have reached out to learn more. I’m really thankful that Emerson created this space for us to raise awareness and create an inclusive environment.