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Building a Culture of Belonging for the LGBTQ+ Community

“I feel very comfortable at ITW...It is my second family. I feel like I’m supported and respected by everyone." - Jarbas Bitencourt, sales supervisor at Polymers & Fluids South America

To reach our full potential as a company, it takes every ITW team member, and that’s why we value the unique perspectives, experiences and ideas that our colleagues contribute. Grounded in our core values of Respect and Integrity, we’re committed to creating diverse and inclusive workplaces where everyone can perform to their full potential, grow their careers and enhance ITW’s culture.

This commitment can be seen in workplaces that protect the well-being and safety of all ITW colleagues. For those that identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community, knowing that they belong at ITW and are fully supported can be particularly impactful.

Jarbas Bitencourt, a sales supervisor at Polymers & Fluids South America based in São Paulo, Brazil, has been with ITW for five years. Although Jarbas has been married to his spouse for 16 years, he was initially reluctant to tell his colleagues that he belongs to the LGBTQ+ community.

That changed, however, when Jarbas met Sonia Rogatto, the division’s vice president & general manager (VPGM).

In addition to her role as VPGM, Sonia is co-chair of the Global ITW Women’s Network (IWN) and sponsor for P&F Segment and Brazil chapter. She is also passionate about ensuring all colleagues feel safe and welcomed at work.

According to Sonia, emphasizing respect and understanding of LGBTQ+ issues is engrained into ITW’s culture. “We have daily dialogues where we talk about how to respect others,” she said. “We also discuss these issues in our newsletter, explaining ideas like the Pride Parade and helping employees understand their importance.”

Through interacting with Sonia and becoming more active in IWN, Jarbas felt encouraged to share more about his home life at work, beginning by sharing with a smaller group of colleagues. When he and his spouse became parents to a baby girl — and news of the birth was featured in a National magazine that focuses on baby, child and adolescent issues — he discovered an even deeper level of support at ITW. 

“I feel very comfortable at ITW,” Jarbas said. “It is my second family. I feel like I’m supported and respected by everyone. This is important because it is something I cannot hide. If I am with a customer, and my spouse calls because my baby is ill, I have to attend to that. I feel like I can do that because of the way we are as a company.”

Sonia sees encouraging signs that further progress is being made as more colleagues open up about their sexual identity and prioritize acceptance from their employer, “We recently hired a new leader who identifies as a lesbian, and she said that one of the reasons she applied is because she saw on our website that we have employee resource groups and our commitment to diversity and inclusion. She felt that we would respect her as a professional.”

According to Jarbas, this commitment to diversity sets ITW apart. “I have friends who are gay who don’t want to come out at work,” he said. “But here I can say I have a spouse, I have a family, and it’s no different — all I have to do is achieve results for ITW.”

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