Dow's First-ever GAAN Champions Write the History That They Want to See
Look closely at the present you’re constructing. It should look like the future you’re dreaming.
- Alice Walker
Although history is typically measured by big moments, history is made every day by people who recognize they can make a difference. During this Black History Month, our Global African Affinity Network (GAAN) employee resource group is celebrating members who recognize the importance and value of an inclusive workplace and world, and are actively making it happen.
Our first-ever GAAN Champion Awards recognize employees who advocate for racial equality, cultivate talent at Dow and in the communities where we live and do business, drive positive change within Dow and volunteer and engage in their communities. Award winners were nominated and selected by their peers.
Action is the antidote
Author Alice Walker said: “Look closely at the present you’re constructing. It should look like the future you’re dreaming.” In a world where systemic racism and inequality are all too real, our champions understand that we all share a responsibility as part of Team Dow and as community members to put our unique perspectives and talents into action - action we take to create a more inclusive world.
Here’s how our GAAN Champions are making an impact:
- Advocacy: Eneias Sousa, a cost accountant for Dow Polyurethanes at our Terneuzen site (The Netherlands), has been a tireless advocate for GAAN on two continents – Latin America and Europe. In Brazil, he worked on setting up a mentoring program between Dow and Zumbi dos Plamares University. He also hosted forums during Black Awareness Month and led an inclusion workshop with the Latin American leadership team. When a career move took him to The Netherlands in 2019, he didn’t skip a beat. Within a short period of time, he helped launch GAAN EMEAI (Europe, Middle East, Africa and India). And despite the pandemic, he has continued to encourage open dialogue on race by hosting virtual coffee break conversations.
- Build & Retain: Bola Oshin, a finance manager for Dow Industrial Solutions in Midland, Michigan, is passionate about identifying, developing and retaining Black talent for Dow. She has taken the lead in recruiting Black students for finance roles at Dow through the National Black MBA Association, National Association of Black Accountants and our own Dow Diamond Symposium. She also mentors Dow Finance interns and coaches employees to participate in career mapping. But that’s not all; she wants new employees to feel truly welcome and settled in their communities. To encourage a sense of belonging, she has invited new employees to developmental events, community picnics and into her home for dinner. She has even organized baby showers for new employees with no families nearby.
- Cultural Awareness: Elieth Batista Fonseca, an environmental, regulatory and compliance specialist in Brazil, is taking action to cultivate a culture where differences are valued and celebrated. Representing the Brazil chapter of GAAN, she has participated in creating workshops and training sessions for employees as part of Inclusion Week Brazil and a GAAN-sponsored workshop called “Inclusion Has All Colors.” She also has led “Fight Against Racism” awareness sessions at two Brazil sites and worked with non-governmental organizations on issues of diversity and inclusion.
- Volunteerism: Melanie Robinson is an improvement engineer at our St. Charles Operations site in Louisiana. Since her early days at Dow, when she became a Dow STEM ambassador, she has inspired minority students to pursue STEM careers. For more than five years, she has worked with the Young Leadership Council, Junior Achievement and Dow to hold at least two STEM events per year. These events have included career fairs and classroom visits at urban schools, in which STEM professionals shared their career paths and engaged students in STEM activities. In addition, she has engaged students in hands-on science experiments and initiated plant tours at her site – all to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.
By promoting inclusivity, encouraging open dialogues, challenging norms, inspiring the next generation of leaders and rolling up their sleeves to give back to their communities, our GAAN Champions are taking actions to create the history that they want to see – and the world needs.
Sadie Bell and Juliet Lawrence on behalf of the GAAN Champion Awards Committee