PRISM ERG Spotlight Q&A

President: Nikki Devoe, she/her/hers, mailroom supervisor | Vice president: Kaitlynn Hammarstrom, she/her/hers, employee engagement specialist | Secretary: Taran Neiderman, they/them/theirs, call center supervisor

What is the mission and purpose of the PRISM employee resource group (ERG)?

Nikki Devoe: The mission of the PRISM ERG is to support all members of the LGBTQIA+ community and provide education to members as well as allies. We also are focusing on intersectionality to highlight and bring sensitivity to different experiences. This education helps create a space where people can be their true, authentic selves.

Kaitlynn Hammarstrom: Our mission and purpose is to provide a safe and supportive place within Maximus for anyone who's in the LGBTQIA+ community. We also want to be a place for education for our members and for people who join as allies to learn more about and understand the other identities in the queer community. This helps ensure inclusion in our workplace and helps us in how we serve communities.

Taran Neiderman: I would definitely agree that our mission and purpose is to be a place of education, support, and resources. Overall, we want to amplify our employee voices of LGBTQIA+ employees.

Why are ERGs important for Maximus?

Devoe: For so long, our community has been voiceless and discriminated against. Having a safe space to elevate our voices and develop a sense of community in an ERG in the workplace would have never happened 10 years ago.

Support like this can save lives. Discrimination against the LGBTQIA+ community has been on the rise recently in the United States. Maximus did a great thing by launching this ERG when it did because I personally feel like there are a lot of people in the U.S. right now who might feel afraid. There have been more than 550 anti-queer bills introduced, many of which target transgender and nonbinary people.

Having PRISM right now is really important for the people who want to be a part of that space, and it's important for those who want to learn how to be allies and support their friends or family members.

Hammarstrom: ERGs provide an opportunity to amplify the voices of marginalized groups or groups that share a common identity. I think that it’s important for people to be seen and heard and to have a space where they can chat about things that they can connect on or that is related to them.

Neiderman: It's definitely important for our employees to have support here at work. Even if they don't have it outside, they'll always have that here with the ERG. It's a place they can come to find support and other resources to help them continue living their true selves. The ERG is especially important for our remote workers or folks who are on-site but don't have any other coworkers like them. This particular ERG creates a bridge for that gap. If you don’t have a particular community right there with you, one of our ERGs has your back and is there for you to talk, vent, and ask for resources.

What initiatives are you most proud of so far?

Devoe: Launching [the group] and becoming an official Maximus ERG.

Hammarstrom: Our ERG just launched, so I can’t speak to a specific initiative, but we’re really happy with how the launch went for the ERG becoming official. I think we had close to 900 people on the call. It was big and fun.

June is actually only our second meeting with the three of us in leadership. I’m proud of how we’re learning how to work together and coming up with plans for the future. I’m proud that the ERG is official, and that's exciting.

Neiderman: I'm ecstatic that the ERG is up and running and that we have participation. I'm proud that we have created this space for our community, and the fact that it exists is absolutely mind-blowing to me. I think that is my favorite thing so far.

What are the ERG goals for 2023 and beyond?

Devoe: We are still very new, but we definitely want to see more engagement with the community, host some events, and work on collaborating with other ERGs in the coming months.

Hammarstrom: We want to create some subcommittees within the ERG with specific focuses in mind – community engagement, membership engagement, or professional development to help people with leadership skills.

Neiderman: We're also planning to increase employee engagement just so that everyone knows that PRISM exists; whether or not they participate, they are aware of us because life changes. Maybe somebody has a grandchild that comes out as trans or gay or any part of the community. PRISM can provide some education or resources they may need. We want people to know we are here if and when they need us.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

Devoe: As I have said at the launch and in some meetings, being a part of this ERG has brought a new fire to my passion at work.

Hammarstrom: I think something we would love to be able to provide or be able to do is not only be a safe space and an educational place, but our ERG can be a voice of advocacy for people within the company. I’d like to work with DE&I, leadership, and the Maximus Foundation to help support queer people and allies. I’d like to use this platform to move Maximus forward in ways to support their employees who might be directly impacted by certain situations.

Neiderman: I'm really excited to see all of the resources that we can create together as one unit for everyone going forward. I feel like we've had a strong start so far, and I think Nikki, Kaitlynn, and I make a good team. I am excited to see how we can build and strengthen this community.