We interviewed Anne Cabrera, service line director and co-lead of SWCA’s Working Parents and Caregivers Employee Resource Group (ERG). She shares her experiences as a caregiver in the workplace and discusses caregiver benefits at SWCA.
Q: Hi, Anne! Thanks for sharing your time with us today. Would you like to get started by telling us about yourself and your career?
A: I joined SWCA in September of 2020, so I am getting close to my 3-year anniversary. I’m part of our Client Services group and my role is focused on disaster, resilience, and climate-driven services. Prior, I spent 15 years with another firm. I’ve been in the same career space for coming up on 18 years, but it’s gone quickly, because I love what I do. My son’s name is Gabriel, and he is 26 years old. He’s happy, healthy, and engaged to be married next year. He doesn’t need care from his mom as much anymore, even though they are always our babies, but I’m also caring for my aging parents.
Q: Why did you choose to lead the Working Parents and Caregivers ERG?
A: I became aware of the ERG during Caregiver’s Celebration Month last year, and in the materials, I noticed that Sarah Zink was looking for a co-lead. As I mentioned, my son doesn’t need me as much anymore, but I’m entering another phase of life where my dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I’m suddenly managing new relationships with my parents; becoming the responsible one in those relationships is hard. The materials last year spoke to me, and I felt like the group would be the right fit for me.
Q: What are the accomplishments, priorities, and goals of the group?
A: The group is a safe space where members feel free to voice their struggles and receive peer support. We have such a warm, kind group and my favorite moments in meetings are watching folks who are a little further along their caregiving journey share advice with those who are in the middle of a particular challenge. Norma Crumbley joined as the executive sponsor, and she’s been an excellent addition because she’s also a caregiver going through the same things as everyone else in the group. We’ve discussed how to make office events flexible and more inclusive for caregivers, so they don’t need to step away from their families or hire babysitters. We prioritize awareness about SWCA’s flexible workforce model and how it benefits caregivers; our workforce model provides employees with clear choices, defined expectations, and ongoing support around four established work categories. Companywide, we allow wellness days, instead of only allowing sick days. Our goals for this year are to highlight diverse caregivers and host more guest speakers in the ERG.
Q: Have you developed skills and qualities through caregiving that you use in your current role?
A: Many caregiving skills translate to Client Services, such as managing a variety of tasks and having my attention pulled in different directions when something becomes most critical. Additionally, being empathetic to others’ circumstances has helped me in my career. I always assume that I don’t know what somebody else is dealing with, which helps my relationships with clients and colleagues.
Q: What would you like people to know about the caregiving experience?
A: I would like people to know that the caregiving experience does add value to employees. Previously in my career before joining SWCA, travel was hard, and my capabilities were questioned because my attention was perceived as divided. We must allow people to say what they can handle, and trust that people will tell us if they can’t handle something. I hate to see people denying opportunities, and I feel lucky that SWCA is understanding toward caregivers. Further, I’d like to amplify that you can’t tell a caregiver from the surface. Let’s shatter the stigma that all caregivers are women!