CommEdisonAt Commonwealth Edison, the focus and energy around Diversity & Inclusion is, simply, electric. As a company with a legacy of strong partnerships with our communities and a diverse workforce, Tracie Morris, Vice President, Human Resources, relishes the opportunity to employ creative ways to further strengthen the company’s culture as it relates to innovation, inclusion and talent development.

“We are a microcosm of the communities we serve, and thus we know there is tremendous power in embracing a broader definition of D&I, one that honors the perspectives that come not only from racial or gender background, but also the uniqueness and the insights that come from diversity of thought, age, educational backgrounds, sexual orientation and more,” Morris said. “We must be adaptable in our approach if we want to succeed in attracting and retaining the best talent, particularly with a rapidly changing energy landscape.”

Conversation is valuable, but action is key. In 2014, about 50% of the ComEd workforce was diverse. And ComEd’s spend with diverse suppliers in 2014 was 26% of total annual supply expenditure, a $100M increase over 2013. Yet the effort to have D&I as much a part of the company’s DNA as Safety goes beyond discussion of race and gender, evidenced by Talent Workforce Development that includes outreach to disabled individuals, and recruitment of military veterans, recognizing the often specialized set of skills, perspectives and leadership abilities they bring. And Workforce Planning that focuses on developing talent internally can allow, as one outcome, time for principles and company practice related to DI and innovation to be cultivated further and take root.

Through a special video series, ComEd Voices, employees share – and hear – each other’s stories about experiences that have helped shape their perspective on D&I. This provides a forum for conversations that might not happen any other way. Strengthening relationships with and among Employee Resource Groups is another means to ensure that employees understand the valued role they play in the company’s ability to achieve its longer-term goals, including even deeper community connections.

ComEd president and CEO, Anne Pramaggiore, supports this effort in impactful ways. In 2014, ComEd launched its first ever Icebox Derby, providing 30 young girls from very different backgrounds the opportunity to build race cars out of recycled refrigerators, revving up their interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). In 2013, the company brought construction industry companies, social service agencies and labor organizations together to launch CONSTRUCT, an 11-week educational program that gives participants information, training and guidance needed to better compete for entry- level jobs in construction-related fields. From the first two program sessions, 85 percent of program participants have been offered employment, and the program is gaining attention from other utilities and local government agencies interested in replicating its success.

“We’re only as strong as the communities we serve,” Pramaggiore said. “As we work to create the Utility of the Future, one that leverages technology and provides greater value for customers, we must ensure our current employees have the training and have developed the culture needed to help them grow their skills, and we must find and train new workers from our communities to take on the challenge of building and maintaining a smarter grid.”

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