At a women in energy conference three years ago, Skyler Obregon, who was honored with a GRIT Award back in March, had an idea.
Vicki Hollub, CEO of Occidental Petroleum, gave the keynote address and spoke about the importance of mentorship, sponsorship and networks in building up women in the industry. It got her thinking: Weatherford should create something like this.
So that’s what she did: Obregon, U.S. and Canada Compliance Counsel for Weatherford, joined forces with Shanta Eaden, Director of Global IT Project Management Office and the company’s Diverse and Inclusive (D&I) Program Chair, to create Women of Weatherford, an internal network better known as WOW.
But they didn’t want to build it in a vacuum. The WOW network officially launched in April 2018 — with a keynote address from our founder and CEO, Katie Mehnert — and as the network has taken shape, the WOW Co-Chairs have engaged other internal networks at Weatherford, as well as external networks including other companies and even customers to collect best practices and understand other D&I considerations, all while building key partnerships.
“We all need to work together to narrow the gender gap and widen the female candidate pool and diversity in general. You look around, and a lot of people look the same. And that’s not acceptable. It should be a joint effort in the industry,” Skyler says.
“It’s got to be global,” Shanta adds. “We started off really thinking about how we can support each other globally,” she continued. “The culture is completely different across the globe. How do we take the core values that we stand on and build upon those around the world?”
It all starts with connections.
Skyler experienced the value of a powerful network firsthand during her tenure at Weatherford, an international oil and gas company with operations in over 90 countries around the world.
She started with the company more than six years ago, working in operations. Then, a few years ago, she gained an interest in compliance. She had a strong internal network and had built a relationship with the chief compliance officer, so she approached her and made the ask.
“I was incredibly humbled that this leader appreciated my work ethic and dedication,” Skyler says. “But it was because I continued to reach out that she gave me that opportunity.” This is a great reminder to advocate for yourself and others in order to expand horizons.
Shanta has had similar experiences tapping into her networks. She has challenged herself to take on speaking engagements — an unnerving experience for a self-proclaimed introvert — but that has opened up doors time and again.
“Now I know I have people I can call on for key projects, or if I’m hiring for key candidates or just need a sounding board,” Shanta says.
Those personal experiences have helped build the foundation for WOW. The founders have seen the power of a strong network, and they want to build a program that will help others do the same.
“We wanted to focus on what would be important for our colleagues and our Company,” Shanta says. “At the heart of it, our goal is to inspire, support, engage and empower the women of Weatherford.”
That goal is coming to life in a variety of forms.
For one, WOW, which has attracted more than 200 members thus far and hosts monthly touchpoints. Each meeting features a different speaker, providing a diversity of thought and practical insights on career progression.
The meetings also allow all levels of the organization to interact with C-suite executives and senior managers. This helps early to mid-career professionals know who to engage as they look to move through the ranks. It also introduces those C-suite executives to the talent coming up in the organization. These conversations also allow a great opportunity to ask questions and learn from one another’s experiences, regardless of title or tenure. The executive sponsors have been incredibly supportive.
“Our monthly WOW Connect sessions also enable us to reach our colleagues in the field and get them engaged in the conversation,” Skyler says. “We envision empowering other countries to have their own get-togethers and their own speaking topics that are relevant and meaningful to their teams.”
WOW is also working with HR and corporate leaders within Weatherford to institute blind resume reviews, statistically shown to decrease unconscious bias, and to build maternity rooms in all Weatherford facilities.
“How do we continue to create a fully inclusive and diverse environment? We do that through these structured programs and strategy items and investments that need to be made within the fabric of who we are,” Shanta says. “It’s all about creating connections with people where we can support each other when the time comes.”
Help along the way
True to the goals of WOW, Shanta and Skyler aren’t trying to do this alone. They recognize there’s a lot to be learned from those who have gone before — and those who are building alongside them.
The WOW leadership has a monthly touchpoint with the other D&I networks within Weatherford, which includes veterans, LGBTQ and young professionals groups.
“We lean on the other networks to make sure we’re following best practices and collecting lessons learned, as well,” Skyler explains. “We are all in this journey together, as One Weatherford, and are learning so much from one another.”
And the organization is partnering with another initiative within Weatherford — Weatherford WISE: Worldwide Initiative Supporting Education — to work on getting girls interested in STEM as early as elementary school.
“I’m glad to see how our industry is embracing the importance of diverse and inclusive workspaces,” Skyler says. “We still have a lot of room to grow, but we are definitely making strides and have an incredible support system both within and outside of our organization.”
“That’s why we partner with organizations like Pink Petro. We must continue to drive the discussion and topics and actions to make the difference,” Shanta says.