GCI launches Indigenous Business Resource Group as part of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — In an effort to better support employees and the communities it serves, GCI has launched the Indigenous Business Resource Group (BRG), an internal, employee-led initiative focused on supporting Indigenous people and communities. The Indigenous BRG is the latest project to evolve from the company’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion program launched in 2021.
The Indigenous BRG is a space for Alaska Native, Native American, and other Indigenous Peoples and allies to collaborate, gain a better understanding of traditional cultures, and it’s a space for all employees to show up as their most authentic selves. Business resource groups, sometimes called employee resource groups, have been identified as a best practice for companies that want to make their organizational culture more inclusive, while creating a greater sense of belonging for employees.
“A BRG is an intentional effort to create a more welcoming workplace,” said GCI Chief Communications Officer Heather Handyside, executive sponsor of the Indigenous BRG. “Rather than responding to a mandate from leadership, BRGs chart their own path and are empowered to build a community within the company. We’re excited to have a space for new voices and new ideas. In addition to supporting our employees, we know the Indigenous BRG will help us better understand and serve our customers across Alaska.”
In a state with unique and diverse cultures, languages, histories and ways of life, the Indigenous BRG will allow the GCI team to better serve its Alaska customers while amplifying the voices of historically underrepresented communities.
“There is a need and want for opportunities to increase cultural competence and build awareness of issues facing Alaska Native communities, and also foster a network for employees to connect and build relationships with one another, especially in our very remote workforce,” said GCI Senior Manager of Customer Experience and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Crystal Jackson. “Already in the first couple of meetings, I’ve taken away a huge sense of hope and optimism from those who have attended.”
Jackson, who is Inupiaq and a member of GCI’s DEI Council, serves as interim co-chair of the Indigenous BRG.
The group has already made an impact by promoting Indigenous Peoples’ Month, creating an Indigenous names guide for conference rooms in the company’s new corporate campus, helping shape the curriculum for a companywide Indigenous training, in partnership with the Alaska Native Heritage Center, and is planning activities to honor Elizabeth Peratrovich.
“I’m thrilled to help launch GCI’s Indigenous BRG,” said GCI Senior Demand Planner Sarah Stever. “It’s given me a chance to get to know Indigenous peers across the company and helps me feel connected. It’s also a great feeling to see so many allies attending our meetings. I really feel supported.”
Stever, who is Inupiaq and a member of GCI’s DEI Council, serves as interim co-chair of the Indigenous BRG.
In addition to the Indigenous BRG, GCI also formed the LGBTQ2+ BRG in 2022 and the GCI Women’s Network BRG in 2016, and a wide variety of other initiatives to better the workplace, foster an inclusive company culture, and continually learn about the cultures and peoples that power GCI’s team.
“I hope we will become better-equipped to support our Indigenous employees no matter where they are on their journey in life,” said Jackson. “And, allies of this group are critical to our success in being known as a great place for Alaska Native and American Indian people to work.”
GCI, Alaska’s largest telecommunications company, formed its DEI Council in 2021; it’s a nomination-based, employee-led initiative to address DEI efforts in the workplace.
To learn more about GCI’s Workplace Culture and DEI initiatives, visit https://news.gci.com/topic/workplace-culture.
Headquartered in Alaska, GCI provides data, mobile, video, voice and managed services to consumer, business, government, and carrier customers throughout Alaska, serving more than 200 communities. The company has invested more than $4 billion in its Alaska network and facilities over the past 40 years and recently launched true standards-based 5G NR service in Anchorage, now the nation’s northernmost 5G service area. Learn more about GCI at www.gci.com. GCI is a wholly owned subsidiary of Liberty Broadband Corporation (Nasdaq: LBRDA, LBRDK, LBRDP). Learn more about Liberty Broadband at http://www.libertybroadband.com.