July 30, 2021

Leader Perspectives: Fighting Social Injustice

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In It to Win it! Progress in the Fight Against Bias, Discrimination and Social Injustice

When I started my career at Thermo King, a division of Trane Technologies, in 2006, I was immediately aware that I was one of three African Americans in my organization and one of the few minorities in general. This was not outside the norm of most industries or previous workplace experiences; I became accustomed to often being the only minority in the room. When I look around today, that is no longer the case. The diversity of my colleagues has increased significantly. At the end of 2020, Trane Technologies’ US workforce was 35.5% racially and ethnically diverse, with 12% of leadership roles held by racially and ethnically diverse people. While improvements have been made, there is still more work to be done.

Last year, the discussion of race and the need for diversity was elevated to a global discussion against the backdrop of real-world social injustice and discrimination playing out in our communities and seen on the news and in courtrooms. Inside our company, the tough topics have become common conversations. This includes colleagues sharing their journeys of assimilation (hiding their true selves) to authenticity, and employee resource groups (ERGs) holding discussions to help drive inclusivity, unconscious bias, ally-ship, and appreciation of diverse thinking.

I am proud to be part of a company that encourages and welcomes these conversations and actively works towards a united and welcoming environment that accepts everyone. We are all better for it.

It has become a conscious decision to build a culture that embraces differences and values the opinions and contributions of each person in our company. This starts at the top – from our leadership and strong internal champions, and cascades down to the grassroots level where we see employees hosting coffee chats to share their experiences, joining ERG/ inclusion network events, and more. Trane Technologies’ 2030 Sustainability Commitments aim to achieve gender parity in leadership and workforce diversity reflective of our communities. This includes increasing the racial and ethnic diversity of our salaried population in the U.S. by 50%. In addition, we were the first in our industry to sign on to Paradigm for Parity, a call to action for gender equality, and we are a founding member of OneTen, a coalition to hire 1 million Black Americans in ten years.

Our world is far from perfect. Our company still has more progress to make in our quest to create an open work environment where everyone can bring their best, authentic selves each day. An environment where everyone feels comfortable, welcomed, and empowered to reach their full potential. But we are in it to win it! The progress is real and future bright as we continue this important journey.

Dwayne Cowan is the vice president of Commercial Americas for Thermo King Americas, a division of Trane Technologies. He is also the executive leader in the company’s TK United, an employee inclusion network that informs, engages, and builds ally-ship to foster inclusion for all.