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August 13, 2023 by  
Filed under Cover Story, Feature

‘It’s about inclusion, not exclusion’

Sharon Braddy-McKoy made history as the first Black woman to serve in a director capacity at Southwest Gas Corporation. She has been Vice President of Human Resources since 2012 and was promoted to Senior Vice President/Chief Human Resources Officer in 2022, — responsible for company-wide oversight and strategic direction for all aspects of human resources, organizational development, and corporate and administrative services throughout Arizona, California, and Nevada. 

A native of Las Vegas, Braddy-McKoy has been a tireless steward of the Southwest Gas corporate culture, working steadily to create and nurture a diverse workforce of more than 2,300 employees. She recently announced her retirement after 25 years at the company — and sat down with Las Vegas Black Image to reflect on her accomplishments and look ahead to what’s next (spoiler: it won’t be a meeting).

You have made Nevada corporate history in many ways. 

That’s what I understand. I became the first Black officer in the Southwest Gas Corporation, but I started working for the company in 1998 in an entry-level analyst position in the human resources department. I landed the position in operations initially, and then moved to the corporate office. I just worked my way up.

When you came into the corporation as an analyst, did the company train you or was your hire based on previous experience? 

I had previously worked at UNLV, nine years in the human resources department. After I moved up, I decided to move on — and then I came to Southwest Gas Corporation.

What would you say has been your biggest challenges while in your leadership role at Southwest Gas? 

One of my challenges was gaining respect ‘of some’, because I was the first Black woman to progress at the corporate/director level. But breaking down barriers really comes down to building relationships. When you are in a [field] that has been historically male dominated … you really start to see the reality. Now, Southwest Gas has embraced the culture of inclusion and I am proud to have been a part of that. Keeping conversations open and honest has helped our company internally and in the communities we serve. We understand that in order for us to remain successful, the thought process has to consider others — so it’s not just about us, it’s about inviting others who may have a different thought process. I think that is really important when you think about diversity — internal and external. Southwest Gas’ diversity, equity, and inclusion not only focuses on our internal people efforts we extend those efforts to encompass procurement opportunities for minority-owned businesses, how we represent ourselves in the communities we serve, and the schools we support. It’s about inclusion, not exclusion. That is this organization is about and what I know we continue to focus on.

What would you like our community to know now that you are retiring from Southwest Gas Corporation? 

Well, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would be blessed enough to have the role I did at Southwest Gas Corporation. But when I think about all the individuals who have made an impact in my life — such as my parents and my family, who sacrificed so much for me — I am so grateful. Also, all of the educators and teachers who saw something in me when I attended school here in Vegas, from high school through college. Big shout out to Rancho Rams and ‘Go Rebels!. They would whisper in my ear, or take a moment to tell me, “You can do it.” Even when I thought I couldn’t. Those teachers who encouraged me were so important. I know educators don’t get enough credit for what they do, but they really are the backbone for our society. The Southwest Gas Corporation and all the people I was blessed to work with have been amazing. Amazing employees, executives, and board of directors. Last year Karen Haller became our first female President and CEO in the company’s history. Again, that says a lot about the progress of the organization. I’ve had the most incredible opportunities and I couldn’t have asked to work for a better organization. Just being a part of the amazing progress that the Company has seen throughout the years is so rewarding and for that I will be eternally grateful.

What’s next for you? 

I’m not going to work anymore, but I will remain engaged in the community and involved with nonprofit organizations. I truly loved working for Southwest Gas Corporation and it has been the most amazing job. It will be impossible to top that experience. I want to travel and enjoy my life with my husband, James. I want to spend more time with my mom, my new granddaughter and really appreciate not having to go to another meeting (laughs).

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