Enterprise employees in central Alabama empower future female leaders.
Fifteen years ago when Ashley H. first participated in Enterprise’s annual United Way campaign she directed her contribution to Girls Inc., a United Way member agency. At the time, she had no idea it would later lead to her operating group having a larger focus on mentoring young women.
The initial gift
“I started with Enterprise right out of college and immediately recognized the value of a mentor and seeing strong female leaders succeed within the company,” says Ashley, now a Talent Development Manager at the administrative office in central Alabama. “When I first researched United Way-sponsored organizations where I could designate my annual contributions, I decided to pay that lesson forward by donating to Girls Inc.”
The nonprofit organization inspires and empowers girls age six to 18 to grow up to be healthy, educated and independent. Girls Inc. offers summer-long camps and afterschool programs where participants, often those with fewer resources, receive the support, skills and tools they need to become leaders.
Wanting to do more
As Ashley progressed through the Management Training (MT) program, the residual effect of being mentored had lasting impact. “I’ve always felt supported by a lot of women at Enterprise,” she says. “Once I became a Branch Manager, I returned the favor by mentoring others. But even though I was encouraging female employees and continuing to support Girls Inc. with annual United Way campaign donations, I still felt like I could do more to make a difference.”
When Ashley took a position with the Human Resources team she found yet another avenue for encouraging future female leaders. Because she had the opportunity to be more involved in community activities, Ashley organized a field day event for the Management Training summer intern program to host at Girls Inc.
Paying it forward
More than 20 volunteers — consisting of Regional HR employees, administrative office employees and 13 Management Training interns — spent the day playing dodge ball, hula hoop and red rover with about 100 girls in Birmingham, Alabama. The interns wore T-shirts of their colleges that day to jump start conversations about pursuing secondary education. Enterprise volunteers also spoke with participants about what they want to become when they grow up and how they think they’ll achieve those goals.
“It was an extremely rewarding day for all of us and the girls,” adds Ashley. “Not only did we get to show our interns how we give back to the community, but we also got to interact with the girls and open their eyes to the possibilities ahead of them.”
Leaning on the Enterprise Holdings Foundation
To make an even bigger impact, the Central Alabama Group requested and received a grant for Girls Inc. from the Enterprise Holdings Foundation — the company’s philanthropic arm that donates to charitable causes on behalf of employees and the company’s operating groups. With the grant, Girls Inc. can provide more scholarships for their programs, enabling those from all economic backgrounds to attend.
“Giving back to Girls Inc. has been really special for me,” says Ashley. “I connected to the organization as a woman who grew up in this community, and it feels very rewarding to know that Enterprise supports the community causes that are important to its employees. It doesn’t get much better than that.”