Tyndale Uniform Suppliers connected Dovetail Workwear to Portland General Electric, an energy company based in Portland, OR and an employer of approximately 3,000. Dovetail Workwear’s Product Team recruited PGE’s female employees to provide feedback on our flame-resistant (FR) work pants through a series of focus groups. These conversations helped inform how the products worked for women in the utility sector, and what else they needed in their workwear.
Tell us about your work at PGE.
Rebecca Prich, Field Operations Manager: I've been at PGE for about 5 years now. I've been in the utility industry for about a decade, but I started off as an engineer that would go out to sites to do design evaluations, see equipment or workers in real time, and then take that information back to my desk so that I could perform design work.
I've built off of that experience, and now I’ve been a field operations manager in PGE’s Substation Operations division for the last year. My particular teams are first responders for substations, our eyes and ears out in the field responding to emergencies.These folks go out, at night, in any weather condition, and perform their work. I help to foster those relationships across substation operations to help improve learning opportunities, professional opportunities – and smooth everything else out in between. I've spent more time out in the field now in my new management position than I ever did previously.
Lisa Corcoran, Senior Corporate Compliance Analyst: I'm working on increasing the diversity of companies we do business with at PGE, ensuring we contract with, source from, and build relationships with a variety of companies that reflect the diversity of our region. We're the relational arm of the business as it relates to contracting and supplier setup.
We’re so grateful PGE’s employees could advise our flame-resistant workwear! How did this collab come to be?
Rebecca: Most field employees working in transmission and distribution roles at PGE are required to wear FR clothing while on the job, for their safety. Earlier this year, several women in Substation Operations (pictured here) agreed to participate in a partnership program between PGE, safety clothing supplier Tyndale, and Dovetail Workwear, to weartest your new flame-resistant women’s workwear.
Lisa: This is actually a particularly exciting thing for me to highlight. I'm a new recruit to PGE. I've been here for 9 months. When I was going through the recruiting process and identifying a professional home for the next decade or more, PGE stood out. A lot of companies say they value diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and PGE puts their money where their mouth is. From conducting an annual pay equity audit to creating development programs for women and people of color, to Project Zero (our green jobs internship program for young adults from underrepresented communities), PGE is working hard to make our workplace and industry more equitable and inclusive. PGE appealed to me as a new employee because they focus on the development of women in the trades and other nontraditional professional roles, whether that's in an office or in a field environment. Our focus group with Dovetail was one of my first projects.
I see workwear on a daily basis. It's often not tailored toward women's bodies. It's square, boxy and doesn't fit. So the fact of the matter is that PGE cared enough to assign someone (me) for the project to help pull this through, to be the relational arm for focus groups, and establish a partnership with Rebecca.
Sara DeLuca, Dovetail Workwear Product Development Director/Co-Founder: In our work, especially as we've done more on the industrial side, we’ve met with groups that will speak about DEI, but not really walk the walk. This was a super exciting project because we had this very progressive PGE in our own backyard, with a female CEO, trying to improve the workwear options for women in nontraditional occupations.
Rebecca: When I got involved with Dovetail – well I think I fell in love with Sara, honestly – when we went to your office and started actually looking at samples. The amount of passion that your team brought in, talking about not only what you're developing now, but where you're going in the future is so impactful and the amount of detail that you put into launching a product, then the feedback and then trying to find a solution that works.
Lisa: Women who have been in the trades know, if you show up and your workwear is ill-fitting and awkward – that doesn't exactly make you feel welcome. So for PGE to take this pain point seriously… it's a very women-centric approach as an employer and to business as a whole.
The trades need a greater depth and breadth so we can serve the clean energy industry of the future... And how meaningful is it to approach women that have goals and, for some of us, families to take care of? This is a very livable wage that can provide really well for a woman.
Rebecca: Lisa, in a focus group, I remember something that really resonated with me. It was talking about how properly fitting workwear can make such a difference when you're a minority in a trade. It's one less thing to make you feel like an outsider. It makes you feel welcome in the industry. That's exactly what this focus group is doing. It's saying, you have a place here, we're going to help you be seen, feel like you're being heard and be comfortable in your everyday work so that you really feel like you're a successful part of the team. There's focus participants that really are out in the rain, the sludge, the snow, muddy trenches, things like that. It's small accommodations that just make you feel a little bit more human and a little less other.
Sara: That was one of the big takeaways for me – the range of elements that that team is in, whether it's summer or winter, is quite diverse. And so understanding what is needed in terms of our apparel to accommodate that range from being super-cold or super-wet to super-hot is powerful to hear from the folks that are out in it every single day.
What role did diversity, equity or inclusion play in this partnership?
Lisa: It's important for people like Rebecca and myself to take the time to apply an equity lens to our work, because we realize the women in the generations that preceded us had to work hard and take risks to achieve the progress and rights we have now. I have a million priorities– we're on a call, my email is dinging like crazy– but I've realized I have to take that time to think about DEI because I bring a unique perspective as a woman.
Sara: To this point, it is taking the time to actually do the work that pushes the needle forward. We appreciated the time of all the folks that participated so much. You have to talk to the women themselves, because they can tell you clearly, and that may be something that has never even been asked of them before.
Rebecca: Some of the answers coming from the field were even unexpected for me too. The things that I thought our female wear testers were going to gravitate toward, they pivoted and asked for different things. These ladies know exactly what prevents them from doing the best at their job at any given time and why.
Lisa: Data analysis is part of what I do in my role and something that I love. Take it back a step: how many women women do you have in the field? Know that number. Know who they are. And then from there, what are you providing from an outfitting perspective? It's asking, then inspecting at a high level, using data to ensure that we're promoting equity in the workplaceworkplace. And if we're not, diving into it, looking ourselves in the mirror and taking steps to get to where we want to go.
Sara: We went back and looked at their catalog data, a full analysis of what was available to women, and what was female-specific. It was super validating and important because as a brand, we like to develop products that are truly needed.
Dovetail Workwear Disclaimer: We are not the boss of our Women At Work! They say it their way and wear it their way.