New England native brings academic experience to communications team, new ERG
A year ago, Meredith Dabek, Ph.D., was teaching college students at Maynooth University in Ireland. As the pandemic restrictions loosened globally, Dabek started looking for job opportunities closer to her family in the Northeast.
In January, Dabek joined Maximus as a specialist in the Corporate Communications department, assisting with internal communications needs and processes.
When Maximus’ Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) team announced the creation of several employee resource groups (ERGs), Dabek honed in on the group geared toward women – now called Women of Excellence – and was voted in as secretary and is now vice president.
“I think the ERGs are an important channel for employees to connect with other people in the company around a shared identity – especially with so many remote and geographically dispersed employees,” she said. “It’s easy to get stuck with a tunnel-vision mentality and prioritize your own perspective.”
Dabek added that she appreciates that the ERGs are open to all Maximus employees and its members represent every division of the company.
“You have the chance to listen to and learn from other people who may have a very different experience of Maximus than you do,” she said. “There are more than 450 individuals in the Women of Excellence ERG (as of August), and every single member has their own experience that’s worth learning about.”
Dabek said her ERG goal is to provide a safe and non-judgmental space for employees to share ideas, ask questions, bring up concerns, and support each other.
“There’s a lot of interest in the mentorship program the DE&I team is developing with the help of the ERGs, which I think will be very important,” she said. “Many of our members want to form a deeper connection with a mentor or mentee, which will benefit Maximus in terms of collaboration, professional development, and leadership development.”
In the Women of Excellence Microsoft Teams channel, officers created several sub-channels for different purposes.
“One allows ERG members to submit anonymous questions to the officers, which we then post to the channel to spark conversation and discussion,” Dabek said. “The Member Spotlight channel will feature a different ERG member with each post. The hope is that this lets us get to know one another on a more personal level. And my favorite sub-channel is our Empowerment Forum where members can post messages of support, pictures, memes, and other media.”
Volunteering to serve as the ERG’s secretary allows Dabek to use her strengths and background in writing, communication, organization, record maintenance, agendas, and meeting minutes to support other employees.
“I’m still relatively new to Maximus, and I work remotely, so I felt that the ERGs in general, and Women of Excellence in particular, are good opportunities to meet people beyond my team,” she said. “I also felt that the Women of Excellence group fit my previous experiences and interests. I consider myself a lifelong advocate for women’s rights. I’ve been fortunate enough to have some wonderful female mentors, from teachers at my all-girls high school to a former manager at a previous job and my Ph.D. supervisor.”
Dabek also credits her mother, who served as an important influence throughout her life.
“I also had an incredible example of a woman of excellence in my mother. She was a single mom, juggling a shared custody schedule and a demanding job in nursing education and administration who just kept pushing forward, no matter what challenges got thrown in her way.”
Dabek hopes that the Women of Excellence ERG will continue to thrive, grow, and move forward with projects and initiatives that enrich Maximus and support group members.
“I’d love to see the ERG develop smaller sub-groups if the need and interest is there, like a sub-group for women of color or one for mothers or parents,” she said. “I hope the planned DE&I mentorship program enhances the hiring and promotion of more women in senior leadership positions.”
As the ERG grows, Dabek said she hopes the program can continue providing professional development opportunities, mentorship, and camaraderie for Maximus employees.
“Mostly, I hope that Women of Excellence continues to evolve and adapt as the needs and interests of its members shift and change over time. ERGs should be dynamic groups that reflect, as much as possible, the sentiments of their members.”