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By ELAINA VERHOFF

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NETWORKING GROUPS: Carmen Jandacek (LGBT Alliance), Lupe Martinez (Hispanic Organization for Leadership and Advancement), Paul Wilson (Veteran Engagement Transition Retention Network), Julie Wilson (Women in Search of Excellence) and Kasey Cortes (NextGen) are part of some of APS’ Employee Network Groups. PHOTO PROVIDED BY APS

ecruiting a diverse workforce is good for business. Retaining a diverse workforce is even better. Retention happens when a company truly respects and leverages the different backgrounds, experiences and viewpoints of its employees. APS is a company that celebrates diversity daily. One way APS has made diversity a part of its company culture is through its Employee Network Groups, which include the Hispanic Organization for Leadership and Advancement (HOLA), the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Alliance (LGBT), Native American Networking Organization (NANO), Network for Urban Engagement (NUE), NextGen, Palo Verde Women in Nuclear (WIN), Palo Verde Young Generation in Nuclear (YGN), Veteran Engagement Transition Retention Network (VETRN) and Women in Search of Excellence (WISE). These groups focus on professional skills, volunteerism and fundraising, and networking, and were established with the intent to develop future leaders of the company. Carmen Jandacek, APS director of ethics and founder of the APS LGBT Alliance employee networking group, says that after 20 years in human resources, she has seen first-hand how these groups have impacted retention. “Employees tend to remain loyal to a company when they are encouraged to challenge themselves, to develop additional skills, and to advance within their chosen fields,” said Jandacek. “Unity between employee and employer are also strengthened when it’s clear a company values the people who work there – not just the work they do, but who they are.” She explains that APS employee network groups both forge connections and promote career development, noting that their growth has occurred organically. “These groups were not created by executive decree or mandated from the top down, but are self-organized, voluntary groups formed around the basis of a

common attribute such as experience in the utility industry, gender, ethnicity or race. Membership is open to all APS employees to support inclusivity across all employee networks.” Julie Wilson, president of the APS Women in Search of Excellence Group (WISE), the largest employee resource group at the company with more than 575 members, says leadership development is a big part of her group’s focus. “We have a comprehensive leadership development program called Exploring Leadership,” said Wilson. “Each year, 12 women are selected for the program, which includes a series of sessions on a variety of topics over the course of six months. At the end of the program, our participants give a presentation to APS leadership.” She says WISE also offers opportunities to pair members with company officers for one-on-one mentorships, and offers “mentoring circles” on topics including career development, networking, and balancing work and family. The impact of employee network groups extends well beyond employees, with all APS employee network groups making community involvement a top priority. “The LGBT Alliance spearheaded company involvement in the Phoenix Pride Parade for the past three years, and our involvement has grown significantly since we first got involved,” said Jandacek. The APS Hispanic Organization for Leadership and Advancement (HOLA) group participates regularly in community volunteer events such as a recent telethon for Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Jandacek says employees tell her on a regular basis that the company’s networking groups have changed their lives. “The benefits to employees, the company and the community are overwhelmingly positive,” she said. “Without hesitation, I would recommend employee network groups to any large company looking for an innovative way to show support and encourage leadership development among all employees.” AB | July - August 2017 101

AzBusiness magazine July/August 2017  

Don’t miss reading about this year’s class of the Most Influential Women in Arizona Business. This issue spotlights the people and associati...

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