At FirstEnergy, diversity and inclusion (D&I) is a business imperative. Attracting, retaining and developing a diverse, qualified workforce is vital for our company to compete and succeed in today’s business environment. Our employees’ unique backgrounds, experiences and cultures help us provide superior value to customers and investors, enable us to achieve excellence in our operations, and make us a stronger and more successful company.
Research confirms the importance of the commitment FirstEnergy and many other companies are making to enhance the diversity of our workplaces and ensure every employee feels included in the company’s success. More diverse companies are better able to attract top talent as well as improve decision-making, employee satisfaction and understanding of customer needs.
Here’s a look at FirstEnergy’s D&I journey, along with some ideas for how you can enhance diversity and inclusion in your workplace.
Diversity and Inclusion Starts at the Top
Fully embedding diversity and inclusion in any organization first requires a strategic commitment from its top leaders. Establishing an executive D&I council can send a clear message to employees about the importance of this goal. CEOs who are personally committed to advancing diversity and inclusion in their organizations can also join FirstEnergy president and CEO Chuck Jones and more than 700 other company leaders by becoming signatories in the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion, the largest CEO-driven business commitment to advancing workplace diversity and inclusion.
Leaders across your organization need to be armed with the education and resources to support their teams and fuel real culture change. Offering inclusive leadership training and developing an online resource center are two of the ways FirstEnergy is working to support supervisors and leaders in their efforts to ensure team members feel their contributions are valued.
In 2018, we introduced a D&I index as part of our annual incentive compensation program. The index is aimed at increasing management accountability around efforts to enhance FirstEnergy’s culture and expand the diversity of professional hires and succession plan candidates. Included in this program are surveys that measure employee perceptions of diversity and inclusion, and we use the results to engage employees in making FirstEnergy a top place to work.
A New Approach to Talent Management
FirstEnergy is working to build a diverse workforce by enhancing our diverse recruiting efforts through relationships with high schools, universities and professional organizations, as well as by supporting educational initiatives, particularly in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects. These partnerships not only increase awareness about careers in STEM and the types of opportunities that we can offer, but they also give us the ability to develop a diverse pool of candidates even sooner.
Throughout our D&I journey, we’ve learned that employees want to better understand the talent management process, especially as it relates to their individual career and development opportunities at FirstEnergy. By being transparent with employees and encouraging career conversations between employees and their managers, our talent management practices have become more inclusive and broadened our range of viable candidates for leadership positions. These efforts have paid off, resulting in a 22% increase in the number of previously underrepresented individuals included in succession plans for managers and higher roles in 2018.
Diversity is only half of the equation. Inclusion brings diversity to life, providing employees with a work environment where they feel valued, motivated and empowered to be their authentic selves.
Making a company more inclusive begins with current employees, whose unique backgrounds, experiences and cultures form the fabric of the company. It’s important to provide opportunities for every employee to be involved and take action, such as:
Offering interactive learning opportunities on topics such as unconscious bias and the business case for D&I.Developing a network of employee D&I champions who can take the lead in implementing change across the company.Establishing department-level implementation teams to put initiatives in place that address employee survey results and feedback within the business unit.Supporting the establishment of employee business resources groups (EBRGs) representing several dimensions of diversity, such as women, people of color, LGBTQIA, veterans and people with disabilities. EBRGs give employees and their allies networking, mentoring, coaching, recruiting, individual development and community outreach opportunities.Offering a formal mentoring program to support employee development and help them build their professional network.
A Journey Forward
While we have a strong foundation in place, our work is far from complete. As we continue to strengthen our efforts to fully embed D&I into FirstEnergy’s culture, we invite you to join us on this journey by taking action to make your organization and the business community more diverse and inclusive.