How Diversity Drives Innovation and Collaboration
When Natasha Pollock moved to the United States from Italy in 2006, she was surprised to discover that Americans didn’t celebrate International Women’s Day.
Senior Product Engineer, Co-Chair YPN
Country of Origin: United States
How she found out about Timken: Career fair at Grove City College, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Favorite ARG moment: Establishing connections between associates who would never otherwise work together
Motto: “Be open to new opportunities. Continue to learn and develop yourself.”
Looks forward to: Mentoring children in the I PROMISE School’s Makerspace
Product Development Specialist, Co-Chair MAP
Country of Origin: India
How he found out about Timken: Research articles published by Timken associates during his PhD studies
What gets him excited about ARG: “The opportunity to learn about different cultures and engaging with Timken locations across the world on continuing to enhance our cultural competency for business excellence.”
Motto: “Seek commitment, not absolute compliance.”
Sales Engineer Lead, MAP and U.S. SE Region YPN
Country of Origin: United States
How she found out about Timken: The big orange Timken sign on the freeway
What she loves about working for Timken: Reaching out to old friends she met in the Engineering Co-Op program
Motto: “The grass is greener where you water it.”
Senior Project Leader, Co-Chair WIN India
Country of Origin: India
Favorite ARG event: International Women’s Day celebration
What she loves about working for Timken: “Endless opportunities, transparency in the workplace, work life balance, and an inclusive company culture.”
Motto: “Believe in yourself, lay a sound foundation to reach your goal, and then appreciate and enjoy the success.”
“I’m originally from Moldova, and I’ve lived in several other countries in Europe where the 8th of March is a major holiday,” says Pollock, who now serves as Timken’s vice president of human resources. Knowing that several other countries in the world also mark the 8th of March to celebrate social, economic, and professional achievements of women, she proposed a company-wide recognition of International Women’s Day in 2009.
“That experience, realizing so many people were unaware of something that was such a big part of the background of many of our global associates, helped me see the cultural gap,” she says. “I learned that in order to understand each other and be able to work better together, we needed to learn from each other a bit more.”
Deeper understanding, however, would need to be driven by Timken associates.
“Top-down cultural initiatives don’t work,” she says. “It has to be a two-way street.” To encourage associates to educate themselves and each other about issues of diversity and inclusion, she recommended establishing, and led the inception of Associate Resource Groups (ARGs).
The next year, Timken associates launched the first ARG: the Women’s International Network (WIN), promoting the advancement of women. WIN’s launch was quickly followed by the introduction of the Multicultural Association of Professionals (MAP), fostering inclusion and cultural diversity, and the Young Professionals Network (YPN), providing networking opportunities to emerging leaders.
Diversity at Timken goes beyond an inclusive mission statement, thanks in part to these associate-run groups. They provide cross-cultural and multi-dimensional diversity learning to enrich the global Timken community, encourage diversity of perspectives in solving customer problems, and foster a sense of belonging and a spirit of cooperation and collaboration. The ARG initiatives directly support Timken’s core value of Teamwork.
Conversations that bridge cultural divides
As a woman of color, Trayce Harris says she often feels like “the most diverse person in the room.” Harris joined Timken as an associate sales engineer in 2020 after completing Timken’s engineering co-op program.
She jumped right into leadership roles in MAP and YPN, organizing a Timken Trailblazer event in February with Dr. Jonathan Waller, who manages the Timken facility in Gaffney, South Carolina. “It was great seeing my first event come to life,” says Harris. “I’m also very proud of the Juneteenth event that MAP and WIN put on this year.”
Those kinds of events encourage people to think and question their assumptions without causing them to shut down, she says. “We need to bring difficult conversations to the table, but people can get discouraged when an issue is overwhelming.”
“Every country has its own cultural blind spots,” she says. “There is only so much reading one can do to understand other perspectives. We must engage in conversation.”
In addition to ARG events, Timken associates participate in training and development programs that help managers recognize bias, create opportunities for more diverse leadership, and empower associates at all levels to advance their careers.
An essential ingredient for solving hard problems
Timken’s culture of diversity isn’t only socially responsible — it’s also crucial to the business, as associates work together around the world to solve extremely complex engineering and logistical problems.
“We are geographically and ethnically diverse, it’s true,” says Rohit Voothaluru, MAP co-chair. “We also tend to think differently no matter where we come from, and that diversity of thought works in our favor when we’re trying to solve difficult problems.”
Voothaluru would know. He’s part of a team of Timken researchers using neutron mapping to understand how manufacturing stressors affect the thickest parts of a bearing, where x-ray technology can never go. He’s also native to India, coming to Timken in his 20s. Today, he mentors other young researchers from around the world.
Voothaluru says his MAP work serves practical as well as cultural applications. “At one event, we learned about differences in professional etiquette globally, and cultural expectations when you travel to other Timken locations,” he says. That knowledge supports everyone as they interact with customers and each other around the world.
A company that values curiosity drives efficiency
“The world doesn’t operate in a vacuum, and neither does our company,” says Pollock. “We’re competing on a global scale and our customers represent various backgrounds. Our decisions and solutions must reflect the understanding of the diverse markets, customers, and competitors we serve.”
As Timken teams collaborate by bringing various areas of expertise and multiple viewpoints to solve customer problems across the world, ARG programs help deepen understanding and create an open environment where differences are appreciated and channeled to generate business solutions. It’s work that is crucial to the company’s success in a fast-moving business world, where technology is evolving at record pace.
“Diversity drives efficiency,” says Pollock. “ARGs teach us how to better leverage our differences by cultivating curiosity. Sometimes ‘the way we’ve always done it’ no longer works. That curiosity, when translated into constructive new business solutions, is what makes us great problem solvers. We need a constant supply of fresh perspectives, so we can continually forge new solutions.”
Timken’s commitment to diversity and inclusion strengthens its impact around the world. Learn more about Timken’s commitment to corporate social responsibility in the 2020 CSR Report.