Black Alliance president uses experience to shape new ERG
When Nicole Terrel, President of Maximus' Black Alliance Employee Resource Group (ERG), sat in on information sessions introducing the concepts of various ERGs, her mental wheels started turning.
"I was so excited because I used to be in an ERG at my previous company, so I already knew about them," Terrel said. "They really get employees engaged with different populations in the organization, so it was refreshing to know that that was the direction Maximus was going. I was 100 percent in."
ERGs are one of the newest programs Maximus has implemented to support and bring value to employees. The sessions held in February introduced six conceptual ERGs that would begin in 2022 to represent African Americans, Asian American/Pacific Islanders, Latinx, LGBTQIA+, veterans, and women.
While Terrel didn't know stepping in and asking questions would lead to her being named president of the ERG, she said she was happy to take on the role.
"I just ran with it," she added. "I have a lot of ideas, so that's what's driving me. I've been collaborating a lot with Soquaya Seawood (vice president) and Janelle Peoples (secretary). We work well together, and we're seeing many of our ideas come to life."
Terrel, who joined Maximus in December 2021 as a senior capture analyst, said it is essential for companies like Maximus to have ERGs for their employees.
"The world is a rainbow," she said. "There are so many different cultures, backgrounds, and even diversity of thought. We can gain so many things by having these people feel like they're not alone and that there are people who look or think like them in their groups."
Terrel added that people from different cultures and upbringings create an environment of creative and innovative work groups.
"I think it's important because diverse groups of people make it possible for beautiful innovation. I think that's the most important and exciting thing about it," she said. "It's not just about race or color or anything like that – we want everybody to learn more about a different culture. We want it to be more open, diverse, and engage more people. I hope that we can promote opportunities for growth and people can enhance their careers at Maximus."
In three to five years, Terrel hopes the Black Alliance ERG will become larger while continuing to be inclusive and accepting of all backgrounds and cultures within the group.
Terrel added that she hopes she can support her co-workers in the ERG as she's received in her current role. She is thankful for her team and manager, who have helped her grow and expand her knowledge in the few months she has been with Maximus.
"I feel like I'm bursting open at this job – we're very collaborative," she said. "Both Jinnifer Wattum, Vice President of Capture, and Andrea Shook, Senior Director of Capture, love and welcome ideas. It's refreshing to have two bosses who encourage fresh ideas. Even if it's not implemented, it's considered, and you feel heard."
Some initiatives the Black Alliance ERG leaders hope to bring to Maximus include philanthropy, a fitness challenge, discovery sessions, and community conversations that allow all employees to learn and grow together.