Essential’s Pride Employee Resource Group Gets Ready to Celebrate One Year!

At Essential, we're proud to offer the Pride Employee Resource Group (Pride ERG) to support employees with a broad range of identities. Launched in the fall of 2021, the Pride ERG is the first company-wide resource group, designed to create a safe place for LGBTQ+ employees to meet with their allies, be heard and work together to make positive changes for workplace inclusivity. Recognizing the importance of intersectionality, the Pride ERG works with the other employee resource groups to address overlapping experiences and issues.

For August’s People and Culture blog, we interviewed two Essential employees instrumental in founding and leading the Pride ERG: Krista Scheirer and Erin Conroy.

Krista Scheirer: Over the last five years, Krista has been a valuable member of the Essential team. In her current role, she is the corporate giving and community affairs lead, overseeing all aspects of the Essential Foundation. She is also the founder and chair of the Pride ERG and represents the company in the community by forming partnerships in the communities Essential serves.

Erin Conroy: Erin currently serves as a human resources coordinator who has been with Essential since 2021. She supports the talent acquisition team with recruitment, and she is an active member of the Pride ERG.

What inspires and motivates you to do what you do?

KS: “Well I would say I’m inspired by positive forces in my life and motivated by negative ones when I see how things could be so much better. I have several important mentors who push me to accomplish my personal and professional goals. In my work, I feel there’s so much to accomplish and so many worthy causes to support, which can feel overwhelming at times, but that also motivates me to keep going. One of my main inspirations growing up was a high school teacher who led our school’s community service organization. He led by example, serving in the Peace Corps and always showing us how important human connections were by remembering little things about his students. After I graduated, he continued to call me every year on my birthday until he passed away. When I need an extra push, I ask myself if he would be proud of me.”

EC: “My history degree is my driving force. I love to look at the progress over the last 100 years and see how people have fought for human rights. These were and still are everyday people who make changes for different groups around the world. Plus, history keeps going, so we can continue to build and improve access to human rights. I’m motivated by knowing there’s always a way through tough times. I want to create an even playing field against negativity and empower young women. Specifically, my little sister Morgan is strong and speaks her mind with the durability to push forward during difficulties – she makes me want to be better.”  

What does Pride mean to you, and how can we all improve upon inclusion and diversity in our own lives?

KS: “We need to be there for everyone and be more aware that not everyone lives the same lifestyle or has the same viewpoints. We can start with having an open mind, using inclusive language and not making assumptions about people. So many resources, education and information are available today to learn about situations different than our own, and educating ourselves and having empathy for others creates a more welcoming environment for everyone.”

EC: “Pride Month began as a protest for equal rights. Now, it’s a celebration of people who, through the consistent fight for equality, can choose to be who they truly are and who they love showing they’re not going anywhere. We can improve by recognizing we all make mistakes and have the autonomy to grow from those mistakes. We can expand our circle and hear people judgement free. We must remember just because someone is different in one way, we are all human and have other things in common.”

How did the Pride ERG come about? What are some of its goals?

KS: “We saw the success of the Black Resource Group and realized there should be something for the LGBTQ+ community. We partnered with the chief human resource officer at Essential and started the Pride ERG with a mission, vision and goals aligned with the inclusion of all Essential employees. At work, a lot of people do not feel comfortable coming out, so they aren’t able to fully be themselves. Sometimes, it’s hard to uplift people, but through the Pride ERG, we can provide a space with allies where folks know they will be accepted and have their voices heard. My personal goal is for it to be a safe space for LGBTQ+ employees, especially those who are struggling. I know from my own experiences that just being there can save lives.”

EC: “ERGs are safe spaces where employees can come together for support and education. LGBTQ+ rights in mainstream society is a relatively new concept, and the Pride ERG provides the framework for necessary education. A main goal of the Pride ERG is to be a safe space for employees who can feel comfortable expressing themselves and for others to learn more.”

What do you like most about working at Essential Utilities?

KS: “At Essential, I’m doing mission-driven work every day to help our communities, and there is a lot of opportunity to make a difference. I feel a sense of community by getting involved and engaging with my colleagues through the Pride ERG.”

EC: “Hands down, the people are my favorite part about working at Essential! My team is supportive and willing to help others without question. Additionally, Essential works hard to foster a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion through employee resource groups and other dedicated spaces for education and employees. I’m excited we’re rebuilding our employee handbook to ensure policies are more inclusive.”

Thank you, Krista and Erin, for sharing your insights and tirelessly working to create a more inclusive atmosphere for your peers by running the Pride ERG.