As a member of the Aera Latino Employee Network (ALEN), engineering technician Mike Arias does much more than celebrate his Hispanic heritage with co-workers.
Along with fellow ALEN members, Arias participates in the yearly “Read Across America” event at Pacific Head Start in East Bakersfield. There, they help boost literacy by reading to young migrant children. Come this Christmas, ALEN members will not only return to read to the preschoolers but make sure that each of the 62 children receives a toy and a book.
ALEN’s 120 members won’t stop there. The employee group will help ensure that holiday stockings are stuffed with clothing and other necessities for residents at Bakersfield senior centers. Throughout the year, ALEN members also mentor students at Bakersfield’s South High School, helping many young Latino students find their way to careers in science, technology, engineering and math through the MS3 program.
ERGs: A closer look
ALEN’s activities are just some of the many year-round endeavors of Aera’s Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). These voluntarily formed networks bring together employees who share common interests and goals. In addition to ALEN, Aera has five other ERGs:
- Aera Asian Employee Resource Group (AAERG)
- Aera Black Employee Network (ABEN)
- LGBT+Allies ERG
- Nexus, geared to early-career professionals
- Veterans of Aera Leveraging Our Resources (VALOR)
Across Kern, Fresno, Ventura, San Luis Obispo and Monterey counties, Aera’s 444 ERG members are using their diverse backgrounds and interests to assist others. They’re supporting organizations that help under-privileged and special-needs children. They’re working with food banks to feed the hungry and the homeless. They’re actively engaged in school literacy and STEM programs. They’re participating in neighborhood clean-ups.
More than social gatherings, Aera’s ERG activities are mapped by each group’s formal business plan. The ERGs offer in-group support, networking and professional development.
For example, Nexus held a workshop this summer to advance Aera employees’ knowledge of innovation. The gathering offered ideas on developing the innovative mindset and solutions that will help Aera increase energy production so vital for California’s future.
At the same time, Aera’s ERGs also give their members an opportunity to embrace inclusion and celebrate diversity, both core values of the company and both critical to building stronger relationships with the diverse communities and neighborhoods where Aera operates.
Inclusion, diversity, community
That’s what Belridge production engineer Linda Mohammed found after she joined Aera in 2012. The Malaysian-born Mohammed became a member of
AAERG to connect with co-workers who share her Asian background, experiences and culture. She later joined ABEN, drawn by the group’s eagerness to embrace diversity and inclusion.
ABEN helps in community activities, such as Back-to-School drives that raise money for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Kern County. The group also has hosted Black History Month events, mentored interns and held personal development workshops. One focused on how to have a more effective performance review conversation with a supervisor.
AAERG members volunteer to feed the homeless and help in neighborhood clean-ups in line with Aera’s commitment to being a strong community partner. The group also holds an annual International Day event to help employees network and better understand each other’s cultures.
Another Aera employee group, VALOR, actively supports military veterans. When the Kern County Veterans Stand Down event took place Oct. 11 at Bakersfield’s Stramler Park, VALOR members like geoscience technician Kay Coodey were there to help staff a booth offering support and sharing information about job openings at Aera. VALOR also organizes and participates in Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day events.
Aera’s LGBT+Allies participates in community LGBT Pride events and includes many non-LGBT employees. In 2015, the ERG developed an LGBT 101 class. Initially aimed at Aera leaders, the class has since expanded to reach all employees. It’s designed to help others understand LGBT concerns in the workplace and the community.
In 2019, ALEN members will put their Spanish-speaking skills to use at community and public meetings where oil and gas are in the spotlight.
“We will be there to translate, answer questions and help people who may not be comfortable communicating in English get to know us and how we operate as a company,” said Arias. “It’s also important for people to know that when they have questions about the oil industry, they can count on us to answer those questions.”