Aera Energy empowers the women in its workforce through Women of Aera, an employee resource group open to all. This group provides mentorship and networking opportunities to employees as well as collaborates with others within the organization to improve the company culture.
Joann Christensen, engineering adviser and a founder of Aera's women's empowerment initiatives, is proud to share more about the resources the company offers its employees.
What is Aera's women's empowerment initiative all about?
The objective of our women's program over the years has been to sustain and enhance the growth and success of the women at Aera. Our programs have provided venues for networking and mentoring opportunities so individuals can develop their own vision for their career path, providing guidance in identifying their strengths and development opportunities, and coaching through individual workplace and personal challenges.
When was this program started?
Aera's women's program started in 2008, with a recognition that women have been historically underrepresented within our industry and the program has evolved over time.
Initially, it started with annual women's forums featuring external speakers focused on empowerment topics such as "What it Means to be a Powerful Woman" and "Uncovering Our Strengths." We later developed a Women's Intensive series to teach and demonstrate leadership skills for success at Aera.
In 2012, we launched our Women's Mentoring program with our technical professional women and eventually expanded it Aera-wide.
In 2017, the group expanded its reach externally by increasing involvement with the Bakersfield Women's Business Conference, launching the Women in Energy Forum with local industry peers and partnering with ALLY (formerly Pink Petro), an organization dedicated to enhancing diversity within the energy industry.
In 2020, the program transitioned to an employee resource group (ERG) called Women of Aera.
What are some of the tools and advice given to the women in order to help them succeed in their careers?
The Women of Aera ERG provides employees with opportunities to develop leadership skills by participating on the group steering team or leading an event. Group participation is a great way to meet others and network both within and beyond the organization.
The mentorship program provides benefits to both the mentee and mentor. Mentees are empowered through personal and professional development, building confidence, addressing workplace challenges and learning the workplace culture. Mentors enhance their mentoring and listening skills, gain a sense of fulfillment in helping others, and share the wisdom they've gained throughout their careers.
How have the women of Aera flourished through this program?
Women have gained confidence in themselves and developed a deeper understanding of their strengths and how to leverage them. Many women have gained leadership skills in this program that they continue to grow in roles in other areas of the business.
I have been in the business 36 years, and early in my career all the role models I saw were men. The few career women I saw typically devoted their lives to their work and did not have families. I was often the only woman in the room, and I had no mentors.
Mentoring early career technical professionals has been rewarding to me, since I can provide perspective and guidance that I did not have access to. I have seen many women who have been part of this program continue on to have rewarding and successful careers, many in leadership roles.