LINKAGE Q1 (2021) - Choose To Challenge
Julie Boodhai, Country Manager of 3M
By Julie Boodhai
Country Manager, 3M
3M empowers women through our core company priorities: equity, diversity and inclusion. We believe that the power of women’s unity can inspire them and help with their professional growth.
As the Country Manager for Trinidad, this reflects my personal beliefs and my leadership style. It is important to encourage women to fight for their dreams and goals, and support them to go beyond what is expected in their careers.
At the beginning of my career, it was important to have support from the leaders around me to help make my dreams a reality. As part of our performance appraisal process, I was required to develop an annual development plan to ensure that employees have access to continuous learning, aligned to the company’s Leadership Model, to get a better understanding of 3M’s Leadership Attributes. These development plans allowed me to identify key competencies in the employee that could lead to a more successful career for her or him.
My former bosses provided me with significant support: coaching, guidance, training, numerous opportunities to work in different aspects of the organisation, both local and regional. I also had strong support from my family, so that I could find my voice and know my worth as a young, female professional seeking career advancement while competing with male counterparts. Having that kind of support shaped my worldview to value the different perspectives and ideas from the diverse interactions I had with persons who did not look anything like me, or whose backgrounds were much different from mine.
Looking back, I can say that I am truly appreciative for those differing perspectives that influenced my early career development. Because today, I am a leader in an organisation that is recognised for its collaborative, diverse group of people, whose ideas transform the future.
While 3M is known for applying science and innovation to make a real impact on every person’s life around the world, we are also an organisation whereby inclusion and diversity are among the main values that have shaped our purpose and continue to bind us together. Our inclusive culture is a strength, and it helps drive success and growth, while overcoming gender bias and stereotypes that have negatively impacted women and others in the workplace.
To be powered by inclusion, we have:
• Cultivated connected community,
• Sought and celebrated diversity,
• Welcomed everyone as they are,
• Operated with transparency,
• Valued experience, not tenure, and
• Fostered learning and development for all.
3M has been in operation for more than 100 years, and today operates in approximately 200 countries, with 96,000 employees globally. The process of innovation is the foundation of our company, which is bolstered by the value we place on diversity and inclusion. While we fully understand that it is natural to gravitate towards people who share our views, opinions and backgrounds, to seek validation in others who are like us. But to truly reap the benefits of workplace diversity, it’s important to shake things up a bit. An organisation that creates cross-disciplinary teams, cutting across cliques, departments and social groups, is the kind of environment where truly meaningful innovation can take root. The different cultures, nationalities, backgrounds, insights, physical and mental abilities of our people, power our creativity while helping us better reflect our customers, suppliers, channel partners and markets around the world.
Embracing diversity is essential for creating an environment where people feel comfortable, a sense of belonging, even though they differ from each other physically, socially, and psychologically. We must appreciate the wide array of perspectives, abilities, experiences and personalities that make each individual unique.
Recognising that societies around the globe have favoured certain attributes over others, at 3M, we seek to advance equity by measuring diversity based on attributes that have historically been marginalised. Specifically, we look at:
• Gender: Women,
• Racial and/or ethnic minorities,
• People with Disabilities: disability defined according to local regulations,
• Military Veterans (U.S. only): defined by government regulations,
• Nationality: employee nationalities that are different than an employee’s work country, and
• LGBTQI+ (in alignment with applicable law): employees who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning or queer, intersex or another sexual orientation or gender identity.
Inclusion is the key that we use to unlock the power of diverse perspectives. It fuels collaboration and creates opportunities for innovative solutions that benefit our customers and communities. When this happens, we see it transfer to the rest of our society, creating social harmony and increased opportunities for a wider group of people who are often marginalised and oppressed. My goal is to stay committed to continuously strengthening our inclusive culture, and supporting an environment where individuals of all experiences, backgrounds and abilities feel safe, engaged, free to express themselves and valued for their unique perspectives and strengths, right here in Trinidad and Tobago.
Diversity and inclusion play an important role in creating an environment where employees, particularly women and minority groups, feel safe to engage and participate fully, because they feel respected, included, and have a sense of belonging. They feel comfortable to express their ideas and valued for their unique voice and abilities. It has strengthened relationships amongst colleagues, resulting in improved performance and productivity over the years. No idea is seen as a bad one, and everyone learns from their mistakes.
3M has many policies and trains employees continuously to ensure that equity is guaranteed, fair treatment is administered, and increased opportunities and career advancement are easily accessible. We provide for all individuals by advancing systems and processes that counteract social inequities and prevent additional barriers from forming. 3M also participates in equal employment and inclusion programmes around the globe (for example, Affirmative Action in the U.S.). Regulated by governments in countries where we operate, these compliance programmes provide opportunities for 3M to measure and track the employment of specific diverse groups, such as ethnic minorities and individuals who have disabilities. The goal is making 3M the most inclusive enterprise in the world, not just because it makes us a much more creative and innovative company, but because inclusivity is the right thing to do. That’s why we established goals and regularly review our progress. This is an on-going process, woven completely into the fabric of the company, so that we are always re-evaluating our approaches, seeking to improve, learning more and leading better.
Our commitment to diversity and inclusion has earned recognition from our communities and other organisations, including the following:
• Catalyst Award – 2017 award recipient for accelerating women’s leadership,
• Disability Equality Index® – named one of the Best Places to Work for Disability Inclusion,
• Corporate Equality Index – named by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation as one of the Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality, and
• R.B. Irwin Award – recognised by the National Industries for the Blind in 2018, for our commitment to creating employment opportunities for people who are blind.
I am really proud of the legacy we have built and it’s my personal goal to continue leading with inclusivity, to work hard at getting better and stronger together. I want to empower women to overcome challenges and aspire to top-level management positions through performance-driven initiatives, with the freedom to unleash their potential. I hope that all leaders around the world set this target for themselves if they hope for success to inspire their teams. We must remember that a gender-equitable world means leaving no one behind based on any single characteristic. Therefore, I encourage leaders today to embrace differing ideas, viewpoints and perspectives to challenge how they see their roles, how they set targets, and ultimately, how they can change the world.
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