IMPACTful Dialogues: Fostering Innovative Teamwork Through Inclusive Leadership

In this episode of Ecolab’s podcast, “IMPACTful Dialogues,” host Dexter Davis talks with Rich Szponder, senior vice president for Ecolab’s Human Resources in Global Supply Chain.

June is Pride month — a reminder of how important it is to be allies to one another, to support our LGTBQ+ associates, and to continue fostering a safe and welcoming workplace. For Rich Szponder, senior vice president, Human Resources, Global Supply Chain, celebrating Pride means celebrating his authentic self both inside and outside of work — and he encourages all Ecolab associates to do the same.

In the fifth episode of our IMPACTful Dialogues series, Dexter Davis, senior vice president, Human Resources, Global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, speaks with Rich about the important role that transparency, authenticity and allyship plays in our organization and in our world.

Here are some highlights from their conversation.

Dexter: Getting to know the team and who they are as individuals is super important, and I would say this just from my observation, I think you have the ability to build trust quickly with people. Why do you think that is?

Rich: I've always, I think, erred on the side of transparency and I'm not afraid to share the bad news either. I see a lot of leaders who seem afraid to share the bad news or kind of put a positive spin on everything. Sometimes we have to talk about the tough stuff and have the tough conversations. I think that helps to build trust because it then gives us the opportunity to talk to our teams and ask for their reactions, what they think.

Dexter: As a key participant in our Pride employee resource group, which advocates for the LGBTQ+ community both inside and beyond our four walls, you’ve recently become an executive sponsor. Could you share your experience with Pride and what prompted you to accept the role of executive sponsor?

Rich: First, Pride is doing some absolutely amazing things, really exciting things. I was part of the Chicagoland chapter as a co-lead, and when I relocated to the Twin Cities for my role, I missed that involvement. Whether it’s the resources that Pride is working on to help talent acquisition, working toward putting some best-in-class practices in place when it comes to gender transition in the workplace in North America, the Ask Me Anything events that Pride does, just the educational events, the community involvement — there's so much happening.

I know what that feels like to either hide who you are or not share really important parts of your life with people you really care about at work. If there’s something I can do to help more Ecolab associates feel more comfortable being themselves at work, then that’s the way in which I want to contribute.

Dexter: For this month, the theme “Pride is for Everyone” emphasizes that we empower all associates to bring their entire selves and ideas to the table, with allyship creating connections that nurture an inclusive culture that supports innovation and creativity. How can individuals become allies for the LGBTQ+ community?

Rich: I think that the allyship aspect is incredibly important and I like that we’ve gotten to focus on that this year. I mentioned earlier the concept of curiosity. I think it's okay to ask questions. Moving from a place of judgment to a place of curiosity, asking questions, seeking additional perspectives, that’s the way to become an ally for someone in the LGBTQ+ population.

The more allies, the better and it’s just going to continue to create that safe, loving and open space for members of our community to continue to feel comfortable at work.

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About the Author

Dexter Davis headshot

Dexter Davis

Senior Vice President, Human Resources, Global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion 

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