Women@Encore&Allies: Building Community and Fostering Female Empowerment Around the Globe
Nearly a decade ago, Encore Capital Group founded its first employee resource group (ERG), Women@Encore, to empower women through support, training and mentoring, and to raise awareness of gender gaps and biases.
More recently, two of Encore’s executives have rebranded and revamped the group under a new name: Women@Encore&Allies.
“As women in the workplace and the community, we’ve developed and evolved so much over the last ten years, and we wanted to mirror that evolution in our group as well,” said Sarah Cosgrave, Executive Co-Sponsor of Women@Encore&Allies and Senior Vice President, Corporate and Government Affairs for Encore’s subsidiary, Midland Credit Management (MCM).
Monique Dumais-Chrisope, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Encore and MCM, said she was inspired to be an Executive Co-Sponsor of Women@Encore&Allies when she realized her colleagues would greatly benefit from more opportunities for female fellowship.
“When we were honoring the two women who started the original ERG as they left the company, it occurred to me that the fellowship of the women at the table was something we all missed celebrating,” she said. “Here were all these amazing women with diverse backgrounds and experiences, and some of them didn’t even know each other.”
The group revamped its structure by focusing on four pillars that establish the value to members: Fostering Fellowship, Enabling Talent Development, Creating Connections and Supporting Communities.
“I believe it’s when we’re properly supported that we’re best able to thrive,” Sarah said of the first pillar, Fostering Fellowship. “My hope is that, together, we can continue to build a connection and a program that helps us foster the tools and skills needed for each of us to unlock our full potential. That, in turn, makes us better in all areas of our lives, work included!”
For Enabling Talent Development, Sarah said the group will meet women where they are in their lives and careers.
“We’re all in different stages of our lives and careers, and that place for each of us changes all the time,” she said. “Today a member may be looking to build a network, but next year she may be focused on career development or on giving back to other women in her community. This group has been designed to meet our members where they are in that moment.”
The next pillar, Creating Connections, speaks to the need to connect women at Encore to other departments, organizations and opportunities to grow.
“Sometimes growth is achieved by growing your breadth of knowledge, and that comes with connections,” Monique said.
Finally, Supporting Communities “is something I am really passionate about,” Monique said. “There are so many women who need help in financial literacy or support in so many other things.”
As part of the refresh, the group has expanded from Encore’s headquarter in San Diego to other global sites through MCM in Costa Rica, India and the U.S., and it will soon be coming to Cabot Credit Management in the U.K. and other European countries. Each country participating in the group has its own chairperson who leads activities in coordination with the others.
“I love the idea of being able to dedicate my effort and energy to help others and make MCM a place of opportunities for everyone,” said Karla Araya, Group Manager and Costa Rica Chair.
She said that Costa Rica will begin with the Creating Connections pillar by highlighting female colleagues’ accomplishments, success stories and contributions, and by setting up spaces for women to connect with other women and allies in other departments.
“We believe we can positively influence our women to apply for internal opportunities if they understand the requirements and the skills needed,” Karla said.
She added that working with other women has already inspired her.
“Seeing how the team has grown and how we’re achieving our goals has filled me with confidence and satisfaction,” Karla said. “It motivates me to keep going and shows that I can deal with other projects and opportunities without fear. Working with others on something bigger than myself has had an empowering effect on my personal and professional development.”
Anshu, Director of Operations and India Chair, said she’s looking forward to leveraging her role to help other women.
“I’ve gone through my own journey to be where I am today, and I’m passionate and excited to partner with women around me to help them achieve their dreams,” she said. “In India, we plan to celebrate small and big victories among women and practice reverse mentorship irrespective of age or skills.”
She added that the India group plans to contribute to the community by organizing food drives for women and children.
U.S. Chair and Managing Vice President, Business Development & Strategic Partnerships at MCM, Danielle Wohlfehrt, said she wants to give back to other women.
“Over the course of my career, I’ve benefitted greatly from the guidance and mentorship of strong women, and I’m very excited to help bring this same support to other women across Encore and MCM,” she said. “One of the most unexpected benefits of the group has been hearing the many unique perspectives of women across our organization. It can be easy to assume that all women have the same experiences. Being challenged to see many perspectives has been a tremendous growth experience.”
Danielle said the U.S. group will avoid a “one-size-fits-all approach” with its various sites across the country.
“While we provide guidance and support at the national level, our local site leadership will be focused on hearing feedback and ensuring each pillar is customized to local wants and needs.”
One thing all the women relaunching Women@Encore&Allies stressed is that the group wants to work with allies.
“This is not a women-only group,” Monique said. “We need our allies to help us connect, help us develop and show up with us in our community. My hope is that our male colleagues show up when we need them and advocate with us.”
“Allyship is incredibly important,” Sarah added. “From something as small as being physically present at events to being true champions and sponsors of female colleagues at work, what you do matters! If you’re someone who wants to be an ally but doesn’t know what to do or how to help, come find us, and let’s talk more.”