Workplace Culture

GCI’s Indigenous Business Resource Group connects employees to Alaska Native culture through beading workshop

The event was open to all employees not just IBRG members

ANCHORAGE, Alaska –Thread is a powerful tool, bringing together beads to make beautifully-intricate traditional earrings and bringing together GCI employees. More than a dozen employees joined a traditional beading workshop hosted recently by the GCI’s Indigenous Business Resource Group (IBRG) to learn about Alaska Native culture and strengthen connections with one another.

With beads, needles, thread, and mats provided, the only thing participants needed to attend was the willingness to learn. Making an earring can be a tough task especially if you have never beaded before, which a few attendees found out quickly.

The Indigenous Business Resource Group hosted a beading workshop on April 18 at GCI Base Camp.

“I didn’t think it was going to be easy by any means, but I thought I would be able to at least complete one side of the pair,” said Executive Administrator of Consumer Marketing Mary Simton. “It turns out that beading was more challenging than I anticipated, and I didn't make much progress. However, the experience has given me a whole new respect for the art, and now I see it in a completely different light."

"I have been beading since about 1998, I learned how from books and from the little old ladies at AFN and Fur Rondy craft shows. I told my mom that I must be doing things right since the old ladies stopped telling me that I was doing things wrong," said Construction Manager, IBRG member and workshop leader Ellen Joseph.

The Indigenous BRG, established in early 2023, is a space for Alaska Native, Native American, and other Indigenous Peoples and allies to collaborate, gain a better understanding of traditional cultures, and is a space for all employees to show up as their most authentic selves.

GCI Construction Manager, IBRG Member and workshop leader Ellen Joseph teaching others how to bead.

“The beading workshop is the perfect example of why we have the Indigenous Business Resource Group,” said IBRG Chair and GCI Senior Demand Planner Sarah Stever. “While we didn’t see many completed earrings, we saw many smiling faces and that is the goal. Helping keep our culture alive by teaching it to others, Indigenous or not, and having a good time while doing it.”

A completed earring made by GCI TS Delivery Resource Management Supervisor and workshop participant Christy Hedrick.

The beading workshop, which is just one of the many events hosted by GCI’s Indigenous BRG, is a great way for the group to share traditional Alaska Native culture with others around GCI and is an opportunity for participants to get to know each other while learning a new skill.

In addition to the Indigenous BRG, GCI also formed the LGBTQ2+ BRG in 2022 and the GCI Women’s Network (GWeN) 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. 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.

GCI 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 other DEI initiatives visit https://news.gci.com/topic/workplace-culture.

About GCI

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.