How AmTrust is Leveraging the Power of Internal Networking to Foster an Even More Inclusive Workplace

Topics: AmTrust

Summary: Employee networks are great ways to get to know your co-workers and encourage an inclusive workplace. Charmaine Rice explains how AmTrust is encouraging women’s networks and lean in circles to help build employee relationships and internal networking.

Women's Professional Network at AmTrust Financial

By Charmaine D. Rice, M.A., Vice President, Learning, Development and Diversity at AmTrust Financial

Inclusion does not happen without intention; rather, it happens when everyone commits to getting involved and working together for the common good. Launched in Fall 2021, the AmTrust Women’s Network is hopefully just the first of several Employee Networks. AmTrust’s Women’s Network is one demonstration of our company’s 2022 theme - Stronger Together.

What are Employee Networks?

Employee networks are a lever to help foster a more inclusive workplace. Networks offer employees the support, networking and mentoring opportunities that can lead to increased education, empowerment and engagement among members. Studies show that networks and other strategic inclusion efforts can improve happiness, productivity, and retention too. For more information about the potential impact of employee networks, see: Harnessing the power of informal employee networks | McKinsey.

About the AmTrust Women’s Network

Like all networks, the primary objective of the AmTrust Women's Network is to foster an inclusive workplace while helping us generate transformative conversations and ideas both inside of the organization and in the communities we serve. Also, like with other employee networks, the group is open to employees who identify with the identity attribute and those who would like to be allies or advocates. The initial phase of the Women’s Network includes the formation of several Lean In Circles. The next phase will involve identifying network leaders and advisors, developing a charter, and building out more awareness efforts across and outside of the company.

What are Lean In Circles?

Based on Sheryl Sandberg’s TedTalk and bestselling book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, Lean In Circles are small groups of women and men who meet regularly to support one another and learn new skills. The mission of Circles is to provide a place where women can be unapologetically ambitious. Circle members meet anywhere and at times that work best for the majority.

What are the Benefits of Lean In Circles?

Benefits are vast, with the most significant being internal networking and relationship-building opportunities, confidence building, enhanced leadership skills, access to a robust library of curated materials, and opportunities to connect with other Lean In Circle members. Most importantly, Circles have full access to Lean In’s library of monthly meeting guides and other resources to use as a springboard for guiding conversations.

Women’s History Month Panel Conve​rsation

AmTrust Women's Network Lean In Circle Leaders

Pictured: AmTrust employees (first row) Yvette Fredericks, Aneesa Shah-Simmons, Joy Maas, Carrie Batchelor; (second row) Zelma Sharp, Maeghan Gorman, Charmaine Rice, Lauren Dodge

In March 2022, for Women’s History Month, the leaders of the Lean In Circles at AmTrust joined a panel conversation – hosted live and recorded for those who were not able to join live. In the panel, they shared insights about the Circles themselves, their authentic experiences as women in the workplace, and reflections on everything from balancing career and personal lives, staying grounded, working through challenges, encouraging, leading, and mentoring others, and they also each paid homage to a special mentor, advocate or ally in their lives. At the close of the panel discussion, each panelist shared a favorite quote. We leave you with those words to inspire and motivate you to consider supporting networks:

Carrie Batchelor: "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." Maya Angelou

Lauren Dodge: "Butterflies are like women--we may look pretty and delicate, but baby, we can fly through a hurricane." Betty White

Yvette Fredericks: "Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice." William Jennings Bryan

Maeghan Gorman: Taken from James Clear – Atomic Habits. "Try to do just 1% better than the day before. Start small and make your increases gradual. Take it slow, steady, and consistent. Simply try to do a little bit better than you did the day before."

Joy Maas: "When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." Wayne Dyer

Aneesa Shah-Simmons: "She was unstoppable. Not because she didn't have failures or doubts. But because she continued on despite them." Beau Taplin

Zelma Sharp: Stop letting your potential go to waste because you don't feel confident or ready enough. People with half your talent are making serious waves while you are waiting to feel ready.

Charmaine Rice: "You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it." Maya Angelou

Charmaine Rice is the VP of Learning, Development & Diversity at AmTrust Financial. She is a collaborative, energetic, and strategic executive who believes that inclusion is the secret to sustainable success for individuals, communities, teams, and organizations.Her work centers around demonstrating how an intentional focus on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging inspires innovation, increases productivity and fosters psychological safety in the workplace. Charmaine earned a master’s degree from Cleveland State University in Psychology with a specialization in Diversity Management and Organizational Leadership and a bachelor’s degree from Wright State University in Communications with a specialization in Public Relations.

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