By Carrie Williams, Director, Project Management Office at Wilbur-Ellis Company
Women’s History Month wows us every year at Wilbur-Ellis. We’re inspired by the courageous women who share their stories on overcoming adversity and hopeful when we see how much progress has already been made toward equal opportunity. But like every other year, a month doesn’t seem long enough for this conversation. We want our female colleagues to feel empowered long beyond the thirty-first, so as March comes to an end, we’re doing everything we can to ensure the discussion on gender parity doesn’t end with it.
Our Women of Wilbur-Ellis (WoW) program is spearheading that effort. WoW helps facilitate Wilbur-Ellis’ continuous commitment to ensuring women have an equal voice in decision-making by providing positive avenues of communication and collaboration for women year-round. WoW members devote a considerable amount of time and effort to ensuring the organization is well-positioned both to help prepare women for leadership roles and to listen to women’s needs across the broader organization. The end goal? A better workplace for all.
In terms of day-to-day initiatives, WoW acts as a resource group for its members, fostering relationships and forming action teams to provide education through both casual information-sharing and more formal webinars and talking sessions. It has also begun working with HR to develop a formal mentor program that will ensure our female colleagues have a resource and advocate beyond their direct manager.
Beyond female empowerment, WoW seeks to engage in a unifying mission that helps our organization achieve its diversity value. Diversity is about encouraging diverse opinions, respecting ideas from all stakeholders and cultivating a culture of mutual respect. WoW ensures we create and cultivate an environment that recognizes and utilizes the talents of Wilbur-Ellis’ women to improve our business. In other words, it leverages women to create the inclusive workplace we aspire to provide to all our employees.
Because the values of WoW are deeply rooted in collaboration, it isn’t just for women. Male colleagues from the very top of Wilbur-Ellis to the front-line folks have committed their time to helping one another through WoW. These men understand the value of an inclusive and diverse workforce and want to support the advancement of women in the organization.
Our male colleagues also understand that diversity and gender equality are good for business. Repeatedly it’s proven that companies with female representation at the top perform better than those that don’t. Similarly, diversity and inclusion groups such as WoW work better when their members bring a diversity of thinking. Without male partnership in WoW, we wouldn’t be as successful.
With time, WoW hopes to evolve into something even bigger. Our long-term goal has always been to promote a better balance of women in leadership roles at Wilbur-Ellis – and there’s no reason we should stop there. Forty percent of the global workforce in agriculture is female, and with farm ownership changing hands, women often emerge as the new leaders. As an organization we must ask ourselves: what can we do to ensure women in the agricultural, animal feed and specialty chemicals industries have the network and resources they need to be successful?