In 2021, Regency Centers launched its first two Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) as part of its ongoing commitment to improving and expanding diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. These voluntary, employee-led groups were formed by individuals who share a common diversity dimension, and include company-wide advocates and allies.
Created to promote member engagement and development, support the attraction and retention of a diverse workforce, and play an active role in community outreach and relations, ERGs will support Regency’s DEI strategic plan with a focus on Talent, Culture, Marketplace, and Communities.
WIN (Women's Initiative Network) is fostering an environment of current and future leaders that will inspire contagious confidence, encourage peer-to-peer rapport, inspire women to become leaders in their lives, careers and communities, and cultivate a culture of paying it forward.
To learn more about WIN, we interviewed three of its leaders below (from left to right):
Alisa Taggart (AT): At the root of it, it’s about creating space where we can advocate for one another. We learned early on in the group that so many of us think we’re alone in struggling with confidence — not just in our professional lives, but in our personal lives. Through WIN, we’re hoping to make topics like confidence a ‘hard skill’ and not just a ‘soft skill,’ with the hope that these skills carry into the futures of our members.
Why is this group important to Regency Centers and its leadership?
(AT): For many years, social justice initiatives — including creating more spaces for women in the workplace to gather and learn from one another — have been talked about as important for Regency to get behind. The social unrest of 2020 presented even more of a catalyst for us to take a hard look at what we should address, and how we should address it. After extensive research and involvement with programs like the CEO Action Pledge, we identified our first two key ERGs (WIN and EDGE: Ethnic Diversity Group for Everyone,) as a starting point that, as far as the industry is concerned, definitely need to be addressed.
Can you speak to the structure of this group, and what meetings look like?
Peggy McDermott (PM): We meet on Zoom monthly, have a focus per quarter, and break that topic up in monthly meetings (i.e. through an activity, webinar/speaker, or book/podcast, etc.) By the end of the year, the goal is that through these resources, members make individual and group progress, and advance their toolkits for the future.
Lizabeth Miskelly (LM): As far as scheduling goes, choosing different days and times each month for these calls has been the most helpful. There is not currently a set date and time on the calendar, because we want to be able to include as many people as possible.
Why did you personally choose to get involved in this group, and at the leadership level?
(PM): When I first started out in this industry, groups like this weren’t accessible to me, so I had to go at it on my own. I think it would have been much easier — and I would’ve learned a lot more at a quicker pace — had I been involved in groups like this one. I didn’t have many women leaders to look up to then, the opportunity to mentor and lead other women now is a no-brainer for me.
(LM): I’ve been lucky to have strong women advocates and allies throughout my career, and I’ve seen how much it’s helped grow my confidence — so leading this group is a great way for me to pay it forward and help others succeed. We want this to really become part of the Regency culture. It’s not just an HR initiative. It’s going to take time, but we want it to become ingrained in everything we do.
(AT): While it may not seem like it to some, I don’t typically allow myself to speak up or be in places of leadership — but I’ve always had empathy, a heart to help, and a willingness to understand. Joining this group gives me the opportunity to get to work with others who know what I’m going through. I haven’t always experienced “women supporting women” in the workplace nor in this industry, so this has already renewed my faith in a lot of ways. Women shouldn’t have to feel isolated in what they’re going through. I’m excited to see how this group helps change that.
What are some of the benefits of holding these meetings virtually versus in person?
(PM): Being on Zoom has made joining this initiative more accessible to everyone in the company — no matter where they are geographically — to interact in real time, in the comfort of their own spaces. Doing this virtually allows us to build this program month-after-month, versus meeting in person at HQ a couple of times a year. It gives us space to connect with people across the company and hear perspectives that we might not otherwise ever get the opportunity to.
What would you say to someone who’s on the fence about joining WIN?
(PM): Just jump in, sit back, and listen. No one is forced to join the discussion, although the opportunity is always there. Why not try it? If it’s not for you, no harm no foul — but we definitely encourage everyone to give it a chance.
(LM): Men and other gender identities are also welcome and encouraged to join. It’s a goal of ours to make sure that this space is something where everyone can benefit.