In honor of Women’s History Month, we connected with the women leading PSEG’s Women’s Leadership Alliance: Kate Almeida, Gas Operations district manager and president of WLA, and Kim Hanemann, senior vice president and chief operating officer of PSEG and executive sponsor of WLA. WLA is a PSEG Employee Business Resource Group which serve as resources to PSEG in its efforts to shape and foster an inclusive workplace culture by developing and executing initiatives that engage, equip and empower employees to reach their full potential.
Q. Can you tell us more about the Women’s Leadership Alliance and its mission?
Almeida: WLA brings together all of PSEG’s women-focused networks to create companywide programming for women and male allies. We deliver content and programs that support our guiding mission to cultivate, influence and inspire women to realize their greatest potential and support PSEG’s commitment to building a more inclusive workplace.
Hanemann: I joined PSEG more than 30 years ago when there were few women in operations. I have had great mentors throughout my career, but few have been women. WLA provides what I didn’t have when I started – other women to network and learn from and support one another.
Q. Data shows that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on the lives of women. Do you agree?
Almeida: Absolutely. Recent statistics have shown that women, in general, are experiencing physical symptoms of burnout and stress at up to two times the rate of men because of the additional burden of household labor and caregiving during the pandemic. This has resulted in one in four women considering downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce altogether. I can speak from personal experience that, while my husband does a lot to take his share of the burden, I am still the “default” parent, as are most women. In addition to my job, I manage our household’s logistics, including child care, meal planning, doctors’ appointments and so on. Under normal circumstances, that’s already a lot, let alone during a pandemic.
Hanemann: COVID is impacting everyone. But then you look at parents and the support they have had to provide tends to primarily fall upon women. We’ve really had to look at how we support women during this time and how we work as a business to meet their needs and those of our customers. Through WLA, we continue to be there for each other, share experiences and exchange tips for getting through these challenging times. We also take time out to remind members to focus on their physical and mental health. As women, we tend to put ourselves last. We need to take care of ourselves to take care of others.
Q. WLA is open to all PSEG employees. How can men get involved?
Almeida: We are grateful to the men who are members of WLA and encourage more to join. Everyone is welcome. Data supports the importance of male allies. One program we are excited about this year is MARC (Men Advocating Real Change) from Catalyst, led by our Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. It is an initiative that inspires men to leverage their unique opportunity and responsibility to be advocates for equity, and we look forward to being a part of that conversation and continued work.
Hanemann: Men have an important role in our diversity and inclusion work. The most successful teams are diverse teams. You don’t want everyone who thinks and looks at things the same way you do. WLA also gives men a different perspective and, I believe, makes them better leaders and managers.
Q. What have you both personally gained from your involvement with WLA?
Almeida: Being WLA’s president over the past year and a half has allowed me to lead a cross-functional team, work closely with senior leadership and support important, meaningful diversity efforts that impact the bottom line. WLA is made up of a diverse group of talented and passionate women and men from all areas of PSEG, and I am so honored to work shoulder-to-shoulder with these incredible people.
Hanemann: As part of the PSEG Executive Officer Group, I am keenly aware of the need to develop the workforce of the future – and it includes many of the very talented women in WLA. They are the next generation of leaders. This has given me a chance to help them develop and prepare them for what comes next. For me, that’s very rewarding.