April 2012

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work up the ladder Lisa Marquardt and several WBRG members. From left to right: Grace Fernando, Lori Snapp, Helen Taylor and Anu Palaparti Q& A Expert 34 BRAVA Magazine April 2012 Celebrate Administrative Professionals Week April 22-28! American Family Insurance's Lisa Marquardt explains how establishing a women's group in her company has benefitted all By Kelsey Sorenson At American Family Insurance, Lisa Marquardt wears many hats. Not only is she an agent/ customer interface manager, she also co-leads the company's Women's Business Resource Group. A business-driven group that has been going strong for years, Marquardt has discovered that starting this kind of employee group doesn't just make good sense for the populations it serves, it makes good business sense for entire companies as well. Why did American Family's Women's Business Resource Group start? Research showed employee resource groups can successfully address employee engagement and retention as well as impact business results. Since women in management were under- represented, we started with the WBRG and a Multicultural Business Resource Group. How have your goals changed since the group started? We launched with about 13 members in 2007 and now have more than 150. In addition to our primary objective of providing input into business initiatives, we have evolved to pro- mote awareness and inclusion through cultural events, communications and community outreach, participate in the recruitment and onboarding of new employees, and promote professional development. Are these kinds of groups a better fit for larger corporations? You will find employee resource groups in medium to large organizations but any business can benefit from similar groups and should be designed based on their specific business needs. The way to go about it is to do your research—you'll find out how to present it to upper management, which can also support the needs of a group. While April might have you ready to celebrate spring, this week of appre- ciation offers a chance to celebrate those who keep your workplace sailing smoothly For employers: Like any employee, administrative professionals want to stay on top of their industry's skills. If you know one of your administrative professionals is interested in boosting their skills, consider reimbursing him or her for certification courses, continuing studies or classes toward a degree. For employees: There is never a bad time to say thank you. Celebrate in your office by recognizing a coworker's hard work with a card, sweet treats, flowers, or even a group lunch. Consider making April 25 a special day to mark the of- ficial Administrative Professionals Day. Local events for administrative pros: To support those in this demanding field, the UW-Madison Office of Human Resource Development is offering an all-day conference at the Alliant Energy Center on April 25 with workshops on a range of topics from best practices and efficiency to e-mail etiquette and work/life balance. Visit for more. Photo by Shanna Wolf

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