GCI Women’s Network renews focus on inclusivity, mentorship
ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Since 2015, the GCI Women’s Network, also known as GWeN, has strived to connect, inspire, and empower women to reach their full potential as leaders in the telecommunications industry, in their communities, and in the lives of each other. Working towards narrowing the inequality gaps of women, GWeN is growing GCI’s pipeline of leaders and addressing issues that are impacting women at local, national, and global levels.
What started with company leadership wanting to encourage and support other women in the GCI workplace has blossomed into a 200 member-strong business resource group (BRG) from multiple departments, varied expertise and professional standing. 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.
“Once word got out about GWeN, we saw phenomenal growth,” said Director of Accounts Sales and GWeN Chair Anna Gould. “We had folks in both the corporate office and retail stores who would join for after-hours networking events. GWeN was the first of its kind at GCI, so we were figuring it out as we went along. We did everything from professional development luncheons, books clubs and even participating in Alaska Run for Women.”
GWeN became virtualized when GCI pivoted to an at-home work model in the spring of 2020; this led GWeN leadership to quickly adopt a new way of connecting with each other and to raise more awareness for its virtual programming.
“We’ve had a lot of success in sustaining, and even growing, GWeN during the pandemic, which has been especially important as our workforce has transitioned to remote-first and some live beyond the borders of Alaska,” said GCI Chief Marketing Officer and GWeN Executive Sponsor Kate Slyker. “A prime example is a recent virtual session we held about negotiating skills, where staff from YWCA Alaska covered everything from negotiating compensation to personal purchases like cars and homes. It was incredibly informative and empowering. This is what GWeN is all about.”
While GWeN’s mission focused on women at GCI, the group in 2022 renewed their focus on inclusivity and breaking down barriers, making sure people of all genders knew they were welcome.
“I had a few male colleagues reach out to me and ask how they could better represent their daughter and ask for advice on women’s issues,” said Gould. “They would ask – ‘do you even want my opinion?’ It’s pretty rewarding to have a male colleague approach you asking how they can be better for women in the workforce. This shows that GWeN is in fact making a difference.”
GWeN’s evolution during the pandemic allowed their message to be communicated in different ways and engaged with employees passionate about hearing a woman’s perspective, challenges, encouragement, and tools for them to be successful.
“Others look to us to see how we’ve done it – how we increase membership, asking for advice and feedback,” said Gould. “We led the charge and we’re proud of what we’ve accomplished.”
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.