Can you imagine a world free of bias and stereotypes? A world where we celebrate our differences and everyone feels included? During March, along with the Women of DTE Energy Group, we celebrate women’s contributions to the world. March 8 is International Women’s Day and this year, the theme is #EmbraceEquity. We chatted with Pina Vyas, director, Marketing, and 2023 Chair of Women of DTE, about what it means to her to embrace equity and move closer to a more equitable and inclusive world.  

What does an inclusive environment mean to you? 

“Above all, an inclusive environment means a sense of belonging,” says Pina. “It’s a sense of not feeling like an outsider. This means being valued for who you are. We function in teams, and we are connected to a common cause and that’s very important. Equally important is being recognized for our uniqueness. Each of us has unique perspectives and skills that we bring to work, and inclusion is valuing these.” 

Leaders also can be more inclusive in how they share with their team. ”Having come across this many times in my career, another very important element of inclusion, for me as a leader, is to be transparent and not treat information as a weapon or a guarded resource. My teams know that they can ask me anything. I will answer honestly and will always share resources and information freely. This means creating the space to include the right team members in the right meetings, as well encouraging their growth and development with exposure to the organization outside their own work groups. 

“Lastly, I am a lifelong learner so the opportunity to learn and work on new things and to grow has always been important to me and is a key component of inclusion. I foster this with my team and mentees too. Be curious; stay curious.” 

How do you embrace equity?  

“I embrace equity by finding ways to empower women in multiple different ways,” says Pina. “First, I’m always checking my own biases.  As a dear friend and colleague of mine likes to say, WORDS MATTER. So I check my own language and expression first.” 

Pina also says that it’s important to pay close attention to language and expression. “We are all resource-challenged, especially women, so I pay attention to how my friends and colleagues are truly showing up, what they’re saying, what might be hiding behind the actual words and how I might help.”  

The way we think we could help might not be the way someone needs help, and Pina says, “I’m mindful of how I show up and what could help – canceling a meeting, extending a deadline, taking on work – whatever the case may be.”  

“While it’s important to celebrate our own successes, it’s equally important to amplify the achievements of others,” says Pina. “I feel having a speak-up culture at our company is vitally important for women. We can be prone to have feelings of inadequacy because we feel like we have to be better than the best in order to be noticed. It’s important for me to recognize and advocate for others when I can.” 

What advice do you have for women starting their career?  

“The most important, and the biggest piece of the performance pie is exposure – who knows what about you and what you do,” she says. “The thought of networking might be uncomfortable but exposure to more people than those in your immediate circle is the key to success. Networking doesn’t have to mean deliberate coffee meetups or lunch meetings – every time you interact with a person, you are networking – building and maintaining relationships. They are leaving that interaction either having boosted their own image of you or detracted from it. Keep that in mind.” 

Pina Vyas has served on the boards of the Energetic Women Conference (affiliated with the Midwest Energy Association) and the Council of Asian Pacific Americans (CAPA) as the President, Vice President, President Elect, Executive Director and the Communications & Marketing committee chair. She currently serves as a consultant to the Structure & Operations Committee for 313 Connect (United Way of Southeastern Michigan) and is a board member with Micah 6.