Updated Jul. 25, 2017 at 3:05 p.m.

Duke Energy joins firms a-to-x pledging to increase diversity, inclusion

Published: 2017-07-25 09:31:00
Updated: 2017-07-25 15:05:27

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Who says fallout can't be positive rather than radioactive? Increasing corporate awareness no doubt triggered through sex and racial bias across the tech and venture capital industries as well as in reaction to various "bathroom bills" has led to efforts to address diversity and inclusion problems. Duke Energy is the latest corporate giant joining a new alliance that pledges to increase both.

Early Tuesday, Charlotte-based Duke said it is joining the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion, an alliance of some 250 companies that launched in June with the mission of advancing diversity and inclusion across member companies.

Firms ranging from Adobe to Frontier Communications, Cisco to AT&T and many more have signed on for "ACT!ON" as the group calls itself.

And tech companies are leading the fight against a Texas equivalent of North Carolina's infamous "House Bill 2" (since repealed) bill.

IBM's diversity logo  IBM, which has its own internal diversity efforts, is a leader in the Texas fight and is part of the alliance, recently unveiled a diversity-themed logo as part of its program.

"The CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion aims to rally the business community to advance diversity and inclusion within the workplace by working collectively across organizations and sectors," the group declares at its website.

"It outlines a specific set of actions the undersigned companies will take to cultivate a trusting environment where all ideas are welcomed and employees feel comfortable and empowered to discuss diversity and inclusion."

Members agree to commit their companies to a variety of diversity and inclusion actions.

Many tech companies are attempting to increase the ranks of minority and female executives as well as employees. And the National Venture Capital Association is striving to create more diversity across that largely white, male industry. This new CEO initiative reflects the increasing level of awareness in corporate suites that concrete actions must be taken in order to address decades of bias.

Duke steps up

So why did Duke Energy join the alliance?

“A diverse and inclusive culture is a critical asset as we transform to better serve our customers and local communities,” said Lynn Good, its chair and CEO, in a statement.

“Our employees don’t turn off their emotions when they come to work – and we don’t want them to. We’re committed to creating a safe environment for them to share their views because we’ve already seen how this can foster more compassion and wellbeing among our employees.”

Duke Energy also pointed out that the company is not a late arrival to the diversity/inclusion struggle. The company touted several programs it already offers as part of an internal program to drive more diversity and inclusion. Those include:

  • Employee Resource Groups
  • Diversity Councils
  • "Pathways to Inclusion" facilitated conversations
  • And what Duke calls an "unconscious bias training program" that launched last year, including 75 corporate leaders

The pledge

ACT!ON's pledge cites three specific calls to action:

1. We will continue to make our workplaces trusting places to have complex, and sometimes difficult, conversations about diversity and inclusion: We will create and maintain environments, platforms, and forums where our people feel comfortable reaching out to their colleagues to gain greater awareness of each other's experiences and perspectives. By encouraging an ongoing dialogue and not tolerating any incongruence with these values of openness, we are building trust, encouraging compassion and open-mindedness, and reinforcing our commitment to a culture of inclusivity.

2. We will implement and expand unconscious bias education: Experts tell us that we all have unconscious biases -- that is human nature. Unconscious bias education enables individuals to begin recognizing, acknowledging, and therefore minimizing any potential blind spots he or she might have, but wasn’t aware of previously. We will commit to rolling out and/or expanding unconscious bias education within our companies in the form that best fits our specific culture and business. By helping our employees recognize and minimize their blind spots, we aim to facilitate more open and honest conversations. Additionally, we will make non-proprietary unconscious bias education modules available to others free of charge.

3. We will share best—and unsuccessful—practices: Each of our companies has established programs and initiatives around diversity and inclusion. Yet, we know that many companies are still developing their strategies. We will commit to helping other companies evolve and enhance their current diversity strategies and encourage them, in turn, to share their successes and challenges with others.

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