Embracing Authenticity: Our Drive to Create a Culture of Belonging
Dexter Davis, vice president, Global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, shares the core tenets guiding Ecolab’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.
I strongly believe that people are at their best when they can be authentic — when they can fully express everything that makes them who they are without fear of bias, discrimination or judgment.
That’s the culture we are striving for at Ecolab. One that recognizes that each of us is defined not by one, but by multiple identities. Gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, socioeconomic status, and life experiences, among others, all interact to ultimately make us who we are.
Seeing people as their whole selves, understanding their histories and the biases and barriers that challenge them to bring their best selves to work every day, is important for all of us. This isn’t easy work. It sometimes demands discomfort and calls for courageous conversations. But these talks are how we uncover commonalities that we wouldn’t find otherwise.
From my perspective leading diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) efforts at Ecolab, I believe there are several fundamental tenets for creating these connections and embracing authenticity:
- Creating safe spaces for diversity of expression and thought; not only hearing each other, but also appreciating.
- Fostering a culture of belonging in which we all thrive.
- Practicing inclusivity with intention and rigor – doing it every day.
- Developing a team and perspectives as diverse as our customers and suppliers.
- Promoting best-in-class corporate social responsibility efforts and social commitments that are rooted in DE&I.
- Prizing people-driven leaders.
It also means encouraging and developing a new generation of leaders. That involves continuing to support our associates through a wide range of DE&I efforts, including the growth of our employee resource groups (ERGs).
Ecolab has 11 ERGs representing cultures and backgrounds from around the world, with thousands of employees actively engaged in the groups’ initiatives. Collaboration with these groups has been increasingly important as we aim to address topics like intersectionality — a framework for understanding compounded discrimination many communities face based on biases toward more than one of their identities.
We want to have open, honest dialogue with our associates; not only those who identify with one or more historically marginalized groups, but also the communities that exist between those groups and their overlapping histories. There are so many intersectionalities among our ERGs and across our organization. By recognizing this and encouraging dialogue to build understanding, the better positioned we’ll be to address the challenges we face and continue to grow our culture of belonging.
For me, this work is a calling. At a time when the world can feel increasingly divided, I am fueled by our purpose as a company that speaks to a common need: to protect what’s vital. Embracing authenticity helps power our purpose every day. While I am personally passionate about this topic, everyone can play a role in creating a culture where authenticity is embraced. We all have the power to make an impact, to influence where we are heading and how we get there.
“I strongly believe that people are at their best when they can be authentic — when they can fully express everything that makes them who they are without fear of bias, discrimination or judgment.”
Vice President, Global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion