March Women's History Month - Great Western Bank

Empowered

March is Women’s History Month. This annual observation celebrates women’s contributions to history, culture and society. Within Great Western Bank, 64.98% of our talent-base identifies as female. As a female leader within Great Western Bank, I applaud the organizational investments made to foster inclusivity, develop leaders, build relationships, and increase visibility. As an advisor to our Women’s Employee Resource Group (ERG), I have opportunity to influence an agenda based upon GWB’s core values – with initiatives driven by women. Those values include, but are not limited to:

  • Increasing cultural awareness
  • Fostering inclusivity
  • Bolstering employee engagement and job satisfaction
  • Defining leadership skills
  • Strengthening employee relations
  • Providing professional development opportunities
  • Attracting diverse talent

Since its inception in 2013, our women’s ERG has coordinated several events within the framework of visibility, individual development, leadership and networking. Some featured events have included: community drives which bring needed services and valuable resources to women’s shelters; panel discussions involving women leaders, their influencers and allies; a “movement” fundraiser, honoring the monumental passage of the 19th Amendment; a pivotal educational series, showcasing women leaders throughout history; relevant career fairs and professional shadowing opportunities which support the development of emerging talent—just to name a few. Megan Maxon, advisor for South Dakota, noted that Great Western Bank “elevates women by empowering them to create meaningful ERG events that promote career development.”

In 2020, through the trials and tribulations that this historic year brought, Great Western Bank recognized our goal to Make Life Great required a renewed focus. The year, while challenging, added clarity for us and helped us redefine who we are. While our new Mission remains to Make Life Great, it now includes a commitment to empower our employees. We, as an organization led by a strong endorsement from our leadership, found a new energy this last year – a spark that allows us to place greater emphasis on a culture of inclusivity. We have noted organizational inequities and are working alongside the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council to bridge gaps and make voices heard. Sara Woolery, co-advisor for the Nebraska/Kansas women’s ERG aptly noted the shift: “The concerns I had in the past, around promoting underrepresented groups, have since been listed. The changes we continue to implement are vast and support a diverse and inclusive GWB culture.”

It was in 1978 that Women’s History Month was recognized. Since, several progressive steps have been made toward the equal rights of women: The Pregnancy Discrimination Act; first women to serve on the Supreme Court; first women in space; sexual discrimination laws passed within the work environment; The Violence Against Women Act; first female secretary of state; first woman to run for VP on the Republican ticket; The Paycheck Fairness Act; first US woman to lead the ticket of a major party; and first female Vice President. This list is not all-encompassing, I’m certain you are adding your own landmark moments. Much has changed over the years; but that change evolution cannot plateau—further changes remain.

Can women have it all? Tommi McFadden, advisor for the Colorado ERG, commented, “In my case ‘having it all’ is built around a few key ingredients; a supportive and empowering employer along with a supportive and loving family.”

As our coursework continues to build around inclusivity, all GWB employees are empowered to be instruments of change. To the women of Great Western Bank, thanks to your many contributions—you are valued and appreciated!

“There are still many causes worth sacrificing for, so much history yet to be made” – Michelle Obama

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