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 Latin America and beyond
At Emerson, employees take our core values seriously. Members of the Costa Rica chapter of the LGBTQ + Allies employee resource group live out the value of “Support Our People” every day, creating an inclusive environment that empowers employees to embrace who they are.
In this feature, we spotlight Fabio Bolanos, an after-market analyst for Emerson’s power and water solutions team in Costa Rica. Fabio is the cofounder of Costa Rica’s chapter of the LGBTQ + Allies employee resource group. He also represents Emerson as a community leader. Fabio heads the company’s committees for the local Alianza Empresarial para el Desarrollo (United Way) and Pride Connection — a collaborative diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) forum for companies to collaborate within Latin America.
Where are you and your chapter located? How did it begin?
I’m currently in Costa Rica. My colleague Ronald Quiros and I began our chapter of Emerson’s LGBTQ + Allies employee resource group. We were pioneers in the creation of an Emerson LGBTQ + Allies chapter in Latin America. A second chapter is currently being founded in Mexico.
What challenges have you faced?
Most recently, the COVID-19 global pandemic. We were used to face-to-face interaction, and virtual calls don’t have quite the same warmth and welcoming. We’ve begun offering more topics, such as the signing of the Declaration of San Jose, Virtual Pride and a webinar on the intersection of diversity, sexuality and disabilities. We’re currently developing a protocol that businesses can use to support trans employees who are undergoing transition.
Tell us about Virtual Pride
It's a virtual platform that came to be due to the pandemic. People can create an avatar to march and pledge their own commitment with humanity, such as being a more inclusive person. Last year, we were able to make a virtual float that reflected Emerson’s commitment to diversity. We are replicating that experience again this year.
We celebrate this with many other companies, and more than 20 other international and national companies are represented every year
What does allyship mean for you and your chapter?
Allyship is so important. In Latin America, there have been so many allies who have been helping long before our chapter was made. One recent example of the power of allyship was the passing of the Equality Act of Costa Rica on May 26, 2020. Allies strongly advocated for this advancement, and I believe it would not have passed without this support. ?
Moreover, Emerson’s Costa Rica chapter has more allies than those in other communities. Sixty to 65% of our participants are allies. Allies are advancing Emerson Costa Rica in its efforts to support our people and continue to focus on creating an inclusive culture.
What is the most valuable reward of being in this group?
The most valuable reward of being in this group is the friends I have gained over these past two years as a leader in the LGTBQ + Allies chapter of Costa Rica. These are real friends who have always been there in good times and the not so good times. Friends who were just coworkers initially but who have committed with me to make Emerson Costa Rica a more inclusive place.
What is your favorite aspect of this ERG?
My favorite part of being in this group is the ability to connect with others that I may not have interacted with outside of the LGBTQ + Allies employee resource group. These connections have made it possible for me to learn from and teach others. Ultimately, this group made me a more understanding and empathetic person, a better teacher and a better learner.
What have you learned from this group?
I have learned to be a better listener, focus on others’ real needs and create a wonderful synergy with a team of leaders who guide their committees on an excellent path. Additionally, I continue to learn the value of hard work. I have experienced firsthand that hard work delivers good results. Those difficult times when things don’t work out as expected usually lead to a new and more important challenge.
How has Emerson supported you and this ERG?
Personally, Emerson has made me feel heard. Emerson has been 100% committed to our ERG, even from Corporate. The entire organization has helped by supporting and promoting us. We really appreciate how they live up to our value of “Support Our People,” something that I did not experience until I came to Emerson.