Empowering Women at KLAS - Cover

Empowering Women at KLAS

Recently, at a company-wide KLAS event, we watched the movie The Post, a movie about telling the truth even when it is difficult. The movie recounts the true story of a tough decision The Washington Post made during the Vietnam War era. Even though they knew President Nixon would indict them, the Post published a front-page story that the White House had known for years that the Vietnam War was unwinnable and was still sending soldiers to die. Our CEO, Adam Gale, stated before the movie started that our mission at KLAS is also to tell the truth, even when vendors might not like what we have to say. But that is not the only thing that KLAS has in common with the themes presented in The Post.

There’s a scene where the character Kay Graham, the Post’s owner, played by Meryl Streep, walks out of the courthouse after the Supreme Court ruled against the Nixon Administration and in favor of newspapers. She walks by the head of the New York Times, a man surrounded by microphones and reporters. No reporters are chasing her. But scores of women and girls are staring at her, dumbfounded—maybe because it’s the first time they have seen a woman in power actually standing up and making a difference.

More than a year ago, two groups were formed at KLAS specifically designed for women empowerment. The first was modeled after the Lean In program, and its purpose was to offer skills and training to bolster women’s careers and comfortability in the workplace. The second was called Elevating Women at KLAS (EWOK) and was for women in leadership positions. It was formed to discuss and advocate for women at KLAS. A few months ago, the two groups were combined to form what is now KLAS’ largest Employee Resource Group (ERG). We volunteered as cochairs, and several other employees have volunteered in other leadership positions within the ERG.

What is wonderful about the combined group is that it allows women from diverse ages and backgrounds to come together, form connections, and mentor one another. We have also opened up the group to include men that are interested in advocating for women or learning more about the unique contribution of women in the workplace.

Since these groups were formed, we have seen our company culture start to change. Women have felt better prepared and more confident to ask for raises and promotions, and they have been heard. Our maternity leave policy was modified to include primary and secondary caregivers, and the time off was extended. We moved to a new office with a wellness room that has a locked door and a bathroom with a diaper-changing table for working parents.

On March 8th, we launched our very first Women’s ERG event celebrating International Women’s Day. There, we unveiled our mission statement: “The mission of the women's ERG is to support and empower women at KLAS through education, advocacy, allyship, and community building. We encourage people of all genders to join us in fostering more equitable opportunities, policies, and representation. KLAS needs the full force of women's talents and voices to fulfill our larger mission to improve the world's healthcare." The event was very well attended and included both men and women. Afterward, one male participant, Steve Lowe, remarked that the event made him want to go home and tell his wife and girls how much he appreciates all the things they do every single day.

A brand-new training on diversity and inclusion was recently held for all KLAS employees, and though this time, the speakers specifically addressed the issues of racial minorities and LGBTQ+ community rather than women’s issues, we recognize our shared efforts to overcome bias in all its forms.

Over the past 100 years, our country has made great strides in advocating and protecting gender equality. Likewise, since the formation of our unique women’s groups, KLAS has made strides to hire, retain, recognize, and empower women. We are certainly not perfect; we still have a ways to go. However, our leaders are listening, and our people are seeing the changes we are making.

Our future plans for the women’s ERG include bringing in guest speakers and classes to address important topics related to women’s issues. Through these means, we hope to form a mentorship program between women both inside and outside of KLAS. We also want to create more opportunities for women to connect with each other and to be recognized for many yet unsung wonderful contributions women make to our KLAS mission.

Photo Credit: Southworks, Adobe Stock