How Values Enforcement Empowers Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

The following is an excerpt from The 50: HR Leaders Reimagining the Filipino Organization. Authored by Monica Padillo,this chapter is titled, “How Values Enforcement Empowers Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace” In it, Angela Lagman the Human Resources Director of Emerson Manila, is interviewed about how the organization executes its strategy in enforcing diversity and inclusion.

Maintaining values in the workplace is often hard to sustain and embody properly. To some, work values become just mere reminders posted on a wall in an office. With so much work and issues in the workplace that need to be resolved, employees and employers alike almost always miss to follow their core values. But not for Emerson Manila—all of their employees' actions and decisions are anchored on their values because they see that their leaders are following those values as well. 


This loyalty to the values was one of the reasons why Angela Lagman stayed in the company for so long. Lagman has almost 27 years of experience in the world of human resources and has been with Emerson Manila since 2008. She enjoyed being part of the global technology and engineering company because it is powered by an engaged workforce and led by leaders who demonstrate commitment to staff relationships.


One might believe that C-level executives won’t have time to talk to their employees, but it is the opposite in Emerson Manila. According to Lagman, the local leaders were inspired to live their company values because their senior executives embodied those as well. And once the local leaders cascaded their learnings to their juniors, this created the culture of loyally following the values. “If you see those things happening, the leaders would really emulate very easily,” she said.


But what are these values exactly? Lagman cited them as integrity, safety and quality, supporting people, customer focus, continuous improvement, collaboration, and innovation. All of these were reinforced wherever Emerson employees went. Whenever they have meetings, employees would have a Values Moment where they would casually take a value and talk about specific behaviors that would show that. 


Lagman added that they also have Safety Moments not just in meetings but in large gatherings outside their office as well. Employees are trained to look for fire exits and identify emergency people to contact when something unexpected happens. Apart from physical safety in these Safety Moments, employees were also encouraged to share about their safe spaces.


“Since it's part of our diversity and inclusion initiatives, the safety moment would let employees answer these questions: how safe do you feel when you're discussing something with a group? How safe do you feel in terms of sharing your ideas? Do you feel that you'll be judged when you say something or when you have a different or weird idea?” Lagman said.


By giving employees the avenue to talk about their wants and needs in every aspect of their being, Emerson Manila was able to create a safe and conducive working environment for everyone.


Aside from these values enforcement efforts, Emerson Manila also has resource groups, which Lagman considers successful up to this day because they are organized by the employees themselves. The resource groups were essentially the same in all countries Emerson was operating in, save for some localized ones. In the Philippines, Emerson has resource groups for Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and the LGBTQ+ Allies community within the organization. 


“Employees are given the chance to form these resource groups and I just act as their executive sponsor,” Lagman shared. “They would propose ideas to me then I would see if they need funding or if they need my active involvement in their activities.”


Their Women in STEM group, in particular, crafted their campaigns around education. They partnered with the Technological Institute of the Philippines and the Women Inter-industry Network to mentor female engineering students and implement an anti-bullying campaign for them. They also teamed up with the Philippines’ Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to roll out the DOST Science Bus in rural areas in the country to teach STEM to young children. In addition, they conducted an interactive STEM camp with Girl Scouts of the Philippines to promote and spark interest in STEM education to young girls.


The group’s efforts were so successful that they won an award at the 53rd Anvil Awards—a prestigious public relations awards ceremony in the Philippines—for their “WeLoveSTEM: Innovation Through Education” campaign. 


Lagman saw these initiatives to be successful as well because employees were happy being able to practice their profession and contribute to nation-building. 


On the other hand, Emerson Manila’s LGBTQ+ Allies group has been quite active with its initiatives as well. Since their inception, the group has done a lot of fundraisers for many minority groups in the Philippines such as foundations that support the golden gays or elderly LGBTQ people in the country, as well as children with HIV. They would partner with the HR Recruitment team to visit schools and speak to students about the perks of joining such a diverse and inclusive organization such as Emerson. LGBTQ+ Allies members of the company would also talk about how young people in the community could have a career without depending on the stereotypes that society has placed on them.


Lagman is particularly proud of the company’s LGBTQ+ Allies group because they pioneered this resource group among all other Emerson companies worldwide. “Emerson headquarters picked up our initiatives and said ‘Manila’s efforts would really encourage a lot of LGBTQ+ individuals across world areas in Emerson,’” Lagman shared, “That started it all and now we have a business resource group for the LGBTQ+ community globally.”


When asked how Emerson was able to maintain such a diverse and inclusive workforce, Lagman said that all employees were immersed in unconscious bias education—a training program that ensured all their prejudices and biases would not affect their judgement of people. Through this initiative, employees from different fields and backgrounds would feel like they belong in such a large corporation.


For example, since Emerson is a global company, their senior leadership team looked into the number of female employees versus male across the employee population and all levels. After seeing that there were more males in the leader positions, Emerson took the conscious effort of developing female leaders as well.


Lagman explained that when implementing promotions as well, the company does not hold on to stereotypes about female leaders in terms of their aspirations. When hiring new employees, they don’t discriminate against candidates based on their schools, location, ability to speak  English, and more. 


“Through our unconscious bias education, we have easily incorporated diversity and inclusion in all our HR programs,” Lagman said, “I think that is one essential part of building a strong culture of inclusivity.”

To get more insights from other HR leaders like Angela Lagman, please check out the full book, available for purchase here


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