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Phillips 66 pilots new virtual ERG: Diverse Abilities Network

By Allison Stowe
Phillips 66 Corporate Communications

Phillips 66 is piloting a new virtual employee resource group — the Diverse Abilities Network — aimed at creating a welcoming and accommodating environment for employees with disabilities, caregivers and advocates.

“With one in four people in the U.S. with disabilities, we knew the need for this resource group was bigger than just one location,” said Director of Energy Technology Kathy Woody, who helped launch the group. “DAN is a great resource for both current employees and perspective hires, and it shows that the company acknowledges the realities they face and says, ‘We’re here to support you.’”

The virtual ERG, which is open to all employees, held its official launch event on June 10 with guest speaker Temple Grandin, one of the most respected experts in both autism and animal behavior.

Grandin, who was diagnosed with autism in her adulthood, is one of the first to document her personal experiences with autism. At the event, she spoke about the advantages of having different kinds of thinkers tackling any given project.

“A lot of people are mixtures of different kinds of thinking,” Grandin said. “The object visualizer sees pictures where the engineer’s mind likes to see numbers and graphs of things. When they work on projects and you recognize the differences, the different minds complement each other.”

The idea for DAN began in 2019 as a group of employees in Bartlesville often exchanged stories and resources from their own experiences. The group grew over time, and eventually two members — Woody and Developer Praveen Nagarajan — decided to pursue expanding it to other locations and classifying it as an ERG.

The ERG will undergo a one-year pilot to build its membership, which now stands at more than 300, and could eventually become the 10th Phillips 66 ERG and be assigned an executive champion. 

“DAN will bring employees together with similar backgrounds and interests,” Nagarajan said. “It will also serve as a platform for knowledge sharing and continuous learning.”

Woody, whose daughter has a disability, said she hopes to help others by sharing her stories and resources.

“A lot of the knowledge that we’ve gained from going through these experiences is knowledge that could be valuable to other employees,” Woody said. “We want to share that knowledge.”