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Looking back at the founding of SRP’s Women’s Interest Network

March is Women’s History Month, a time to reflect on the accomplishments and contributions women have made throughout history.

At SRP, the Women’s Interest Network (WIN) Employee Resource Group (ERG) brings employees together to recognize the extraordinary efforts of women within the company and the community.

Year-round, WIN facilitates events and provides a network for employees to engage within. The road leading to WIN’s establishment was paved by many hardworking women who made lasting impacts and advancements, both at SRP and beyond.

Women at SRP

The work of women makes up an important part of SRP’s history. Early on, women at SRP typically held administrative or clerical roles. Around the middle of the 20th century, however, more women were entering the workforce and exploring new fields.

For example, Nina Duncan was hired in 1937 and became the first editor of SRP’s employee newsletter the Current News. SRP’s first female engineer, Louisa Simmons, was hired in 1947.

By the 1960s and ’70s, women were making significant strides in the workplace. At SRP, early efforts in the 1970s to create an internal organization dedicated to women gained traction. One of these organizations, the Project Women’s Exchange, met monthly between 1979 and 1984 and provided a space for women to share ideas, advice and career goals.

Decades later another group would form with similar objectives in mind.

The Women’s Interest Network

In 2005 several SRP leaders discussed the need for a group that would bring women together for networking, professional development and community service opportunities. Heidi Schaefer, Director of Corporate Taxes and a founding Steering Committee member, stated, “The idea was to connect in a safe environment to share and help each other grow professionally.” That idea received enthusiastic responses from across the company.

A small group of 10 volunteers (who would go on to become the Steering Committee) met to develop a vision, mission and objectives for this new group, the Women’s Interest Network. Reflecting on the early meetings of the original Steering Committee, Senior Director of Land and the Papago Park Center Nina Mullins recalls the importance of advocating for women in the workplace.

Her guiding focus was, “How do we encourage and promote women to make sure they’re at the table? That they are getting the mentoring they need, that they are getting the tools that they need to be successful in executive leadership? You have to have an advocate.”

Becoming official in 2005, the Women’s Interest Network reached men and women alike

WIN’s first meeting in the fall of 2005 attracted over 200 attendees, both women and men, illustrating the demand for such an outlet for SRP employees.

Since its founding, WIN has welcomed all employees, regardless of gender identity, to join. This inclusivity builds on the idea that it is in everyone’s best interest to create an environment that allows women to thrive both personally and professionally.

WIN was one of SRP’s first large-scale efforts to create an employee-led resource group. More were formed in quick succession, creating inclusive spaces for employees to interact and exchange diverse ideas. Today, SRP proudly supports 10 active ERGs.

A bright future for all

In the 16 years since its formation, WIN has provided leadership, community service and networking opportunities to its members. It supports not only the success of SRP employees, but also gives back to the community by selecting a nonprofit to benefit each year.

Organizations, including Chrysalis, UMOM and Dress for Success, have received assistance through fundraising and volunteer efforts organized by WIN members.

Despite ongoing restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, WIN has continued to offer virtual networking and fundraising opportunities to its members.

WIN will also host its fifth annual International Women’s Day celebration in a virtual format this year to keep the tradition moving forward in a new way. Stay tuned to this blog to read about this important event.

This Women’s History Month, we’re celebrating the contributions of women of the past, present and future.

Innovators welcome

For more information about careers at SRP, please visit our careers page.

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