Harnessing Diversity through empowerment

17 Dec 2018

Phil Kane, Country Manager of Eaton, talks to Robbie Cousins of Construction Magazine about how the global electrical giant is empowering women across its operations.

With its global headquarters on Pembroke Road, Dublin, Eaton had a turnover of over €20bn in 2017 and employs a workforce of over 96,000 people across the world. From powered vehicles to hospitals, factories, data centres and even the electrical grid, the products manufactured by Eaton touch our lives in many ways every day. 

Phil Kane heads up the company’s Irish operations, and the construction industry is a key client for the business. Since the launch of the CIF’s #BuildingEquality campaign, Phil Kane and Eaton have been ever-present in their support of the campaign, which she says is reflective of the goals Eaton is working to achieve in its operations across the globe.

The company recently hosted the launch event marking the publication of the CIF’s Diversity and Inclusion Guidance Document for the Construction Sector. At the event, Phil Kane spoke passionately about what motivates her and Eaton’s commitment to diversity within its operations. She also highlighted how the products that the company is developing are not only making building sites safer places to work, but more accessible and attractive to a more diverse workforce.


“By making building sites more accessible and safer places to work through new technologies, we are helping to make a career in construction more attractive to young people in general, and young women in particular,” she says. “Aspiring to be a model of inclusion, diversity is at the heart of Eaton’s approach. It is incredibly important to us that all team members feel included, empowered and welcome, so they can do their best work and realise their full potential. When we embrace the different ideas, perspectives and backgrounds that make each of us unique, we are stronger.”


Eaton has a number of programmes to empower women within its operations.

“Our ‘Women Adding Value at Eaton’ inclusion resource group provides dedicated training, networking, business opportunities and more,” explains Phil Kane. “We have also rolled out a new inclusion and diversity training course to help our leaders better engage and develop employees.”

Eaton also offers support through flexible working programmes.

“This makes it easier for women to balance their commitments,” comments Phil Kane. “I’ve certainly needed that in my own life, as I have three sets of twin girls.” Eaton’s approach has resulted in it being named one of the world’s best employers for diversity by Forbes magazine, as well as one of the best workplaces by civil rights organisation the Human Rights Campaign.

However, Phil Kane says it is not enough just to support women after they join the company.

“We also need to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) career paths to develop a strong pipeline of female talent. To that end, we reach out to local schools, attend career days, host site tours and promote careers in STEM. We also ensure women are represented at all our graduate recruitment fairs.

“Last year one-third of our interns were women, and we are an active partner of the Society of Women Engineers. We advertise our roles on websites relevant to female engineers.”


Phil explains that Eaton’s operations are entering an exciting new phase of development with huge opportunities for skilled people.

“As the physical and cyber world come together, we’re continuing to expand our engineering and technology base here in Ireland,” she says. “A big focus at the moment is on hiring talent in data science and machine learning to develop intelligent power management solutions.

“We’re working with Science Foundation Ireland and academic partners to tap into the rich base of STEM talent in this country. For instance, we’re exploring energy efficiency and sustainable solutions in collaboration with Trinity College and University College Dublin. In this and many other areas we are developing, women have a major role to play.”

In conclusion, Phil addresses what she sees as an immense opportunity for Irish construction.

“There is a huge amount that the construction industry can and should do to empower women. But, I’ve learned in my career never to wait for anyone’s approval, and to go ahead and challenge the status quo. It’s always easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission.”

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