“Diversity and inclusion, if properly managed, can be one of the key enablers to bonding our two successful legacy companies.” Vanessa Abrahams-John should know. She spent six years at Praxair as a lawyer responsible for a business unit, mergers and acquisitions, among other things. Now, in her role as Director of Global Diversity & Inclusion for the newly formed Linde plc, she believes conscious inclusion can be one of the secrets to a successful integration.
Since the merger, Vanessa first spent time providing an overview of the Linde diversity programs to our European colleagues in Munich, as well as presenting to our Kaleidoscope diversity group in Pullach. We subsequently caught up with her before she sets off on diversity training for our global colleagues. First up: Canada. “I’ll be spending a week there developing strategy and delivering leadership training program on unconscious bias,” she explains. Following a quick circumnavigation of the globe, it’s down under to Australia and on to Shanghai for more diversity and inclusion (D&I) training. “I’m really looking forward to it,” Vanessa says, “I’ve been so inspired and motivated by how our diversity and inclusion efforts have been embraced by all our colleagues.”
Ultimately, the goal of Diversity & Inclusion at Linde plc is to embrace, value and appreciate the different skill sets and backgrounds that allow our employees to perform better and our company to be more successful.
You don’t have to look too far into the research literature to see how this translates into a business advantage. “Whether McKinsey, Harvard Business Review or Boston Consulting Group, studies consistently show that companies with diverse workforces – especially in their leadership and board – perform better financially,” explains Vanessa. The reason for this is because diversity leads to diverse perspectives and ideas that translates to more ideation and a more collaborative decision-making process.
There is a simple but critical distinction that Vanessa makes when thinking about D&I; one that allows Linde to operationalise it throughout the business much in the same way as other important values like safety. “Diversity is a noun,” she explains, “it’s simply a representation of differences. But ‘inclusion’ is a verb. It’s an intentional act that we ask our management and leaders to undertake so that everybody feels valued and ultimately performs at their full potential”.