Franklin Electric Co., Inc. (NASDAQ: FELE) announced the formation of a new employee resource group (ERG) dedicated to providing an avenue for women to grow both professionally and personally through education, networking and advocacy. Known as Franklin Women’s Network (FWN), the group’s promise is to “build a welcoming, inclusive community, provide professional alliances, equip Franklin women with relevant development tools and resources, and guide Franklin women to identify and achieve career milestones.”
Companies have implemented ERGs in recent years in response to a growing awareness and support for employee betterment. ERGs create a network of like-minded employees who want to collaborate and grow personally and professionally.
While months of planning went into formalizing the group, the idea for the FWN stemmed from a chance encounter in the company’s hallways between Franklin Electric Engineering Manager Sukaynah Abu-Mulaweh and Global Business Operations Vice President Amy Stauffer. The two struck up a conversation, and Stauffer began meeting with Abu-Mulaweh on a regular basis for mentorship sessions.
“Sukaynah and I were from two uniquely different business areas. Our ability to meet and connect took planning, but we both valued the discussions we had during those sessions,” explained Stauffer. “As a new manager, Sukaynah wanted to form connections that would help her grow and learn about the business from someone who has worked in this industry for more than 20 years.”
During Stauffer and Abu-Mulaweh’s mentoring conversations, the two discussed the importance of taking the experience they shared and creating a more formal network. From there, the idea grew. With the help of steering committee members from various areas of the business, including human resources, finance and accounting, engineering, marketing and supply chain, the FWN was born.
While the ERG is targeted towards women — who are often underrepresented in the industries Franklin Electric serves — the group has made it a point to invite all Franklin Electric employees to participate.
The group’s kickoff event, hosted in Fort Wayne on February 22, was an example of this inclusiveness in action. More than 70 employees participated, including leaders at all levels of the organization. Franklin Electric Chairperson of the Board and CEO Gregg C. Sengstack welcomed attendees. Abu-Mulaweh then presented plans for the year that will include quarterly networking seminars as well as frequent interactive workshops and personal development opportunities.
“We wanted to kick this off with a real community feel, and this event accomplished that,” says Stauffer. “Seeing everyone come together for this common goal of learning and advancement is so important to the future of our business, and really, the future of the industries we serve.”
Vice President of Global Water Engineering Don Brown also knows how important programs like this are to the members of his team, including Abu-Mulaweh. “When I first learned of the plans to form the Franklin Women’s Network, I was excited about the benefits it could bring to our company. The strength of a company is in its people, and this initiative will help us demonstrate that we are a company that values diversity in its workforce and diversity in the ideas of its people. The very existence of this group will help us retain the best women in our workforce and — just as important — it will help us to recruit more women into our company.”