For more than 120 years, we have been on the leading edge of innovation – from using advanced switches that can automatically help limit outages, to leveraging technologies to bring safe and reliable power to you each day. But behind the scenes, there is something even more powerful driving these innovations: a diverse workforce.
The story behind our success in creating a workforce where more than 60 percent of employees identify as diverse literally begins in the foundation of our headquarters on 9th Street.
In the late 1990s, the competition amongst architecture firms vying to build our headquarters was fierce; but amongst the contenders, two African-American architects stood out. Paul Devrouax and Marshall Purnell presented a design which showcased how a building could serve as more than an office; it could become a part of the community. Our building was the first in downtown Washington, D.C. designed by an African-American firm. By hiring Devrouax and Purnell, we demonstrated a continued commitment to fostering a diverse workforce across every facet of the business – from vendors and suppliers to the c-suite.
Today, that commitment is the very fabric of our company. In an industry where only one-third of employees identify as diverse, we recognize from the top down the significant value of having employees, vendors and suppliers who are as diverse as the customers we serve. And it underpins everything we do.
In 2015, we implemented a company-wide policy that required all new projects to include bids from diverse suppliers. In just one year, this shift increased spending with diverse suppliers by more than $13 million for a total of more than $91 million in 2016. Further, we launched employee resource groups and a new diversity counsel across all nine facilities in the District of Columbia and Maryland to help foster a more diverse workplace. We also lead by example; several of our top positions – from the engineering to the legal sectors of our business – are held by women.
We know that a diverse team is the only way we can be successful, and this includes hiring, training and retaining top talent.
Earlier this year, we launched a multi-year partnership with the University of the District of Columbia and the D.C. Department of Employment Services on our Quick Path to Energy program. This six-week training course provides students – primarily students of color – critical STEM skills and preparation for coveted technical careers in the energy industry, as well as access to career and job fairs. The first class of 20 students graduated in June of 2017.
We have been committed to fostering diversity throughout our storied history, and those efforts continue today as we develop and retain diverse talent and build an inclusive workplace and community – a commitment that will continue for the next 120 years.
To see how we’re continuing to foster an inclusive workplace, click here.