Brasfield & Gorrie Women’s Operational Resource Group Provides Camaraderie, Support
April 8, 2019
By Brasfield & Gorrie
Women have played key roles in Brasfield & Gorrie since its inception. In fact, one of the company’s five founders, Imogene Powell, served as an early pioneer among women in the construction industry. Realizing the need for camaraderie and support among women in the industry at the time, Powell helped found the Birmingham chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction. In recognition of her efforts, Powell was recently inducted into AGC Alabama’s Construction Hall of Fame. (Click here to view a video detailing her accomplishments.)
Today, female employees at Brasfield & Gorrie enjoy a strong support network that was not readily available to Powell. In 2014, in keeping with Brasfield & Gorrie’s long-standing commitment to diversity and inclusion, members of the company’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee formed a group to connect and support women in traditionally male-dominated operational roles across the company. Vice President and Division Manager Susan Stabler helped spearhead efforts and served as the group’s first chair. (Read more about Stabler here.) The founding members of the Women’s Operational Resource Group developed the following mission statement:
Brasfield & Gorrie is committed to the advancement, development, and retention of women in construction operations positions and mentoring of future women leaders in our company and industry. Through networking, mentorships, and education, we are dedicated to establishing a platform to share our goals and explore solutions to the unique challenges women encounter in the construction industry.
Since that time, the group’s membership has more than doubled in size. Members include project managers, estimators, safety directors, virtual design and construction professionals, and legal professionals, as well as senior members of our corporate departments. The group hosts an annual company-wide meeting, as well as quarterly regional networking events, relationship-building activities, community service opportunities, and professional development opportunities, including panel discussions, guest speakers, and jobsite tours.
Senior Project Manager Heather Coffelt currently chairs the Women’s Operational Resource Group, and she credits the group with helping her feel connected to other women in similar roles across the company.
“For a while, I was the only woman in an operational role in the Nashville office, and I felt like I was on a bit of an island,” Coffelt said. “I knew there were other female project managers across the company, but I didn’t feel comfortable cold-calling them to get to know them better. The Women’s Operational Resource Group has provided an avenue for me to make great friends who all share a commonality of being strong females in traditionally male-dominated roles.”
When Senior Preconstruction Manager Christy Perdue started working at Brasfield & Gorrie more than 16 years ago, she never imaged that such a group would exist.
“It’s been an unexpected blessing to be able to meet women from across the company and to support those who are new to the organization,” Perdue said.
According to Jacksonville Office Manager Ann Freeman, the group’s success has positively impacted women outside of operational roles as well.
“Mr. Gorrie’s inclusion of Imogene Powell as a company founder was bold and progressive, and we continue to champion her spirit today,” said Freeman. “It’s exciting to look across the company’s footprint and see an increasing number of women in key roles.”
Powell would undoubtedly be pleased by Brasfield & Gorrie’s continued support of its female employees; the establishment, growth, and success of the company’s Women’s Operational Resource Group; and the growing number of women identifying construction as their passion and pursuing careers in the industry.