How joining a Green Team was ‘life-changing’ for one couple
Erin Gill and Thomas Gill share how joining a Green Team led to their love story — and helped them grow professionally.
Thomas Gill had seen Erin Hummel on the other side of his office building in Des Moines, Iowa, but he never talked to her much. They both worked as processors in Document Management and coincidentally had both inquired about bringing the Green Team to their Park Avenue office building in 2014.
But it wasn’t until they co-led their Green Team in a local cleanup event in April 2016 that they got to know each other better and realized they had a lot in common, especially their passion for environmental sustainability. Five years later, they are married and have two children, and Erin Gill is currently the vice chair for the Central Iowa Green Team.
“I had worked for Wells Fargo for eight years,” said Thomas Gill, who left Wells Fargo in 2018 to take care of their daughters. “You do your job, and it feels like that’s all you have time for. Sometimes you do have time to step outside of your comfort zone. It could be life-changing in a good way.”
While the same outcome as the Gills’ isn’t guaranteed for other employees, there are many personal and professional benefits to joining a Green Team.
Wells Fargo’s environmental stewards
Wells Fargo’s Green Teams are groups of employees and environmental stewards organized in communities around the world. Members of Green Teams participate in Wells Fargo’s sustainability efforts and join or lead environmental activities in their communities, supporting “green initiatives,” sharing environmental activities and events with other employees, and raising awareness about sustainable opportunities, among other efforts.
“Our Green Teams play an important role across the company, especially in supporting our corporate sustainability goals.” — Lynne Walters, Wells Fargo Social Impact & Sustainability
“Our Green Teams play an important role across the company, especially in supporting our corporate sustainability goals,” said Lynne Walters, head of Global Employee Service, Giving, and Action for Wells Fargo Social Impact & Sustainability. “One of Wells Fargo’s sustainability commitments for 2020 was for employees to make at least 250,000 commitments through our Impact Today℠ program to support the environment at work, at home, and in their communities. Whether it was planting a garden, turning off their computers, recycling unwanted electronics, reducing food waste, buying efficient appliances, donating to an environmental organization, or other activities, our employees have exceeded our goal by making more than 432,000 commitments. A large part of that success was thanks to the support of our Green Team members.”
There are currently 40 Green Team chapters with about 13,000 total members in and outside of the U.S. The Green Teams also work closely with Wells Fargo Volunteer Chapters and Team Member Networks to coordinate activities that align with Wells Fargo’s corporate environmental goals.
‘I realized how much we had in common’
After she and Thomas Gill inquired about starting a Green Team chapter, Erin Gill became the site lead in their building for the Central Iowa Green Team in 2014. Neither of them had joined a Green Team or Team Member Network at Wells Fargo prior to that.
Since then, Green Team members in their building have planted trees, adopted a stream, put up flyers encouraging people to turn off their monitors to save energy, collected and crocheted plastic bags to make mats for the homeless population, and made dog toys from old T-shirts and shared the template with other Green Teams, among other activities. Erin and Thomas Gill seemed to volunteer at every event, but they never led one together until the Trash Bash event in April 2016.
Thomas Gill was the one who told her about Trash Bash, a cleanup event organized each April by the Des Moines Parks and Recreation Department. One of the awards among participating Trash Bash teams is for team spirit, so he had the idea to also make shirts for their Green Team members.
“For me, it was seeing how creative he was, because I am creative as well,” Erin Gill said. “That led me to see another side of him and talk to him about biking and how much he liked to be outside. I realized how much we had in common. That’s why our love story has been so successful. We knew before we started dating what excites the other person. It bothered him how much was wasted, so he’d go out of his way to recycle. That was a clue to me what type of person he was. He saw me taking bottles out of the garbage, and he wasn’t grossed out.”
Thomas Gill added that joining Green Teams can help employees get to know others in the company in a unique way. “It’s an opportunity to get to know someone outside the normal professional setting because you talk about your interests and start to see what people’s passions are,” he said. “I learned Erin is artistic, and it’s a pretty big part of her personality. Everyone has something unique about themselves, and I think Wells Fargo does a good job of supporting that.”
In addition to getting to know each other and other employees better, Erin and Thomas Gill have also grown as leaders — and they attribute that to being involved with the Green Team.
“I grew so much with my career,” Erin Gill said. “I was a processor in our department, and being passionate about the Green Team developed my leadership skills and helped me become a manager. Thomas had the same trajectory. I’m an introvert, and I think I would’ve otherwise stayed in that safety zone because it’s scary to put yourself out there. When things seem scary, I remember the Green Team and that it was the best thing I’ve done.”