In male-dominated industries, it’s often crucial that women find community—a group of other women across their organization with whom they can connect, learn, and find support. So, whenever a company in a male-dominated industry decides to start an employee resource group (ERG) or mentorship program for women, we take note.
Sunbelt Rentals, the fastest growing equipment rental company in North America, is a big name in the construction industry, and they’re making strides in advancing women at work, too. They recently started their first ERG ever, using a tactful approach to ensure the group supported women across the organization the way they said they needed.
Regional Sales Director Amber Gobert was an integral part of that process. A Sunbelt Rentals employee for nearly two decades, she and the WISE Leadership Team led the charge in growing the ERG globally. Learn the story behind WISE (Woman – Inspired. Supported. Empowered.) and why the construction industry, with community support like this in place, can be game-changing for women’s careers.
Sunbelt Rentals is the fastest growing equipment rental company in North America. Rated most highly for Paid Time Off, Ability to Telecommute, and The People You Work With, the construction company also has great stats where it matters most: 76% of employees believe their growth and success are prioritized, and 81% say they receive the necessary feedback to achieve their goals. Learn more about Sunbelt Rentals, their benefits, and open positions now!
Regional Sales Director at Sunbelt Rentals for 18 years
Her top three must-haves at work:
Equal Opportunities for Women and Men
Sense of Belonging
First, tell us what you do at Sunbelt Rentals and how you got where you are—including into the male-dominated construction industry.
I support our company’s and region’s go-to-market strategy in growing our diverse customer mix and market share with our district/market leadership. My journey with Sunbelt Rentals started with the support of my best friend, my now husband. He was and still is in the construction industry, and he always talked very highly of the industry and the people within the industry. He encouraged me and helped me realize I had what it takes to go into sales and to start my adventure in the construction industry. I started off as an outside sales representative, then took on the role of a manager of one of our stores, then on to a key account/strategic sales representative to a regional sales director (RSD) now.
You’ve been instrumental in Sunbelt Rentals starting their first employee resource groups (ERGs). How did the company come to the decision to start ERGs?
As a company, we were already moving the needle in diversity in what has always been considered a male-dominated industry. Through an employee survey, we found our teammates wanted to connect more through shared characteristics and/or life experiences. Hearing the voices of our teammates is so important and doing something about it is our responsibility as leaders and as a company. In response to our employees’ needs, we formed diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) task forces across the organization. The next step was to add ERGs, the first of which was our women’s affiliate group.
Like you said, Sunbelt Rental’s women’s ERG, WISE, was the company’s first ERG. Tell us about the beginnings of that ERG and your role in the founding and growth of WISE.
There were six women nominated by our senior leadership, representing all facets of our business, to act as the WISE Advisory Board. They used a research-based method to discover what our teammates wanted in an ERG and what they did not want in an ERG. They built a solid foundation to what WISE would represent, but they realized that, in order to execute and sustain our first ERG, we needed more teammates to help lead WISE and connect across the company globally through Sunbelt US, Sunbelt Canada, and Sunbelt UK.
I was asked to lead the newly nominated WISE Leadership Team (20 awesome women). This was a great honor, to be asked to be the president of WISE and to have the backing and empowerment of our extremely supportive leadership. Starting our first ERG was something that we as a company already had in play, but we needed to find a way to connect it, give it structure, and network it on scale.
What have some of the successes of WISE been?
I can point to two major successes of WISE so far. The first is utilizing our internal network and our structure as a company to communicate to our leaders what WISE represents and how to support, promote, influence, and participate. Our leadership has really stepped up to the plate!
The second is positively impacting the women at our company. By having the support of leadership along with the tenacity of our WISE team to use our Sunbelt Rentals make-it-happen attitude, our teammates now have another way to connect their voices and experiences and network.
This experience of founding the ERG has been life-changing and another amazing piece to my leadership journey. The teammates I have been able to meet, work with, and learn from are unforgettable. But the best part of this experience is to hear, see, and feel the excitement of our WISE members, our teammates, as they’re connecting.
Finally, what would you say to a woman looking at joining Sunbelt Rentals or the construction industry today.
Sunbelt Rentals is a company that invests in their people through innovation and inclusion, a company open to ideas and creativity to be world class for our customers. I would say to a woman looking to join the construction industry: Bring your energy and passion in everything you do. Sunbelt Rentals is a company that celebrates that energy and passion. My teammates are remarkable, as are all of our amazing customers and the people within the construction industry. Be bold, ask questions, and be open to all voices—with that you will have a wonderful career in anything you do!