Duke Energy Indiana State President Melody Birmingham-Byrd is one of nine energy company executives and regulators interviewed in Public Utilities Fortnightly magazine about how diversity in suppliers and at the company benefits the company and customers. Duke Energy Indiana provides electric service to more than 820,000 customers and serves 69 of Indiana’s 92 counties. These are excerpts from her interview.
Our commitment to diversity and inclusion is in our mission statement. Our mission is to “build and enable a diverse workforce and to deliver the right products and services to our customers and grow our business.”
This mission is supported by our vision, which is to provide an inclusive work environment where everyone feels valued, respected and can reach their full potential.
To help accomplish our mission, we integrate diversity and inclusion into our business practices, policies and procedures. To this end, we have established four pillars to support our D&I strategy. We want to attract, engage and retain a diverse workforce, create an inclusive workplace, meet the needs of our increasingly diverse communities and customers and do business with diverse suppliers.
Having a diverse corporate-level senior management committee helps us advance our mission. However, our SMC holds the leadership team accountable for operationalizing the mission, promoting and supporting diversity opportunities within our own organization.
We've established targets for minority representation. As of Dec. 31, 2017, females were 23.1 percent of our company and minorities represented 17.8 percent. We have a small gap, which we’re trying to close.
Just last year we hired more than 30 percent females, over 27 percent minorities and over 8 percent veterans, and this is in addition to our existing workforce.
The two youngest generations – millennials and Generation X – make up nearly two-thirds of Duke Energy’s workforce.
In addition to attracting and hiring a more diverse workforce, we also continue to offer training and development. One of the training programs we implemented is called unconscious bias training. … The program provides our participants a step-by-step system for mitigating biases. The top 500 leaders in our company have already completed this training, and we’re cascading it down to our mid-level leaders as well.
We’ve also introduced civil treatment training. The civil treatment training has been deployed to address workplace conduct issues. The goal is to remove incidents of a hostile work environment and to remove distractions to increase productivity, inclusion and retention.
In June 2017, Duke Energy joined the National Coalition of Business Leaders, pledging to advance diversity and inclusion in the workplace. It was called a CEO action for diversity and inclusion. It brought together business leaders and the organizations that they lead to take concrete action to foster a diverse and inclusive environment. The CEO action for diversity and inclusion represented 70 industries, all 50 states and millions of employees globally.
Organizations who joined this CEO action for diversity and inclusion took a pledge to commit to taking three initial actions. Those three actions were, first, to help build workplaces that support open dialogue, complex, and sometimes difficult conversations about diversity and inclusion. The second pledge was to implement and expand unconscious bias education, and the third pledge was to share best practices with member companies.
We are fulfilling those obligations that we committed to. We continue to learn from each other. We continue to adjust and make improvements where needed so that all our employees feel included. Our employees are able to maximize their fullest potential. They’re appreciated and celebrated for their differences, which helps make our company more competitive. It also makes us more admired by the communities and customers we serve across the state, the country and especially here in Indiana.
Duke Energy's employee resource groups
One of the ways Duke Energy supports diversity and inclusion, Indiana State President Melody Birmingham-Byrd said, is through its employee resource groups, or ERGs.
The company’s ERGs are Advocates for African-Americans (A3), Business Women’s Network (BWN), disABILITY Outreach and Inclusion Team (Do-It), Latinos Energizing Diversity (LED), New 2 Duke Energy (N2D), We are One for LGBT Equality (WR1) and Together We Stand for Our Veterans (TWS).
ERGs, she said, help us understand and value the differences among employees, customers and communities and foster an inclusive work environment.