The nation’s association of investor-owned utilities has officially committed to diversity and inclusion in hiring practices and workforce relations nationwide.
Earlier this week, the Edison Electric Institute’s board of directors endorsed the EEI Diversity and Inclusion Commitment during its annual meeting in San Diego. Member utilities agreed to develop three-year diversity and inclusion plans that will impact workforce hiring and workplace environments.
“Having a diverse and inclusive workforce that mirrors the communities we serve benefits our customers, our employees, and our businesses,” outgoing EEI Chairman Pat Vincent-Collawn said in a statement. “As an industry, we have made great progress, and I believe we’re ready to raise the bar even higher. Adoption of this commitment is a positive step forward in enhancing and advancing D&I in our companies and throughout our industry.”
The EEI statement noted that member utilities are investing more than $100 billion annually on building smart energy infrastructure, as well as adding and integrating clean energy resources. The next-generation workforce needed to build on this transition should be highly skilled, diverse and open to change, according to the EEI statement.
The institute will create a diversity and inclusion online resource center showing best practices, projects and strategies for member companies to start or improve their outreach and education efforts. EEI also will work with the Center for Energy Workforce Development to build on retention programs and explore outreach efforts in schools to develop a diverse workforce.
“More than ever, we must remain focused and excited about the transformation our industry is leading and about our future,” said EEI President Tom Kuhn in a statement. “A diverse workforce and diversity of thought are critical to our success in leading this transformation and to delivering the energy solutions our customers expect. EEI is proud to play a key role in helping to improve D&I best practices within our industry.”
Vincent-Collawn, who is CEO of New Mexico-based PNM Resources, has been at the forefront of developing an industry-wide approach to diversity and inclusion. She hosted a utility industry diversity and inclusion forum, considered a first-ever such event for the national utility association.
EEI member utilities serve more than 200 million customers nationwide. They work in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.