Respect for All at EN: Listening, Understanding, and Changing with Empathy

Diversity and inclusion has been an evolving part of the fabric at EN for many years. However, events that occurred last year prompted leadership to reflect on their actual performance with a new perspective, and what they discovered was an opportunity to build upon it.

As a result, the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force was formed to make sure any outstanding challenges are addressed, voices are heard, and positive change takes place. An introspective group, the task force was formed to validate that EN, as a whole, is following its mission of respecting each employee’s diverse perspective.

The task force, itself inclusive with representation from many different groups of people ranging from people of color to the LGBTQ+ communities, began with a survey sent to all employees, and close to 75 percent participated.

The purpose of the survey was to evaluate EN’s current culture and to establish a baseline with which to benchmark from. Task force representatives Cedric Moore and Jessica Pluhm noted that the results were relatively positive and affirmed that EN is on the right track while illuminating areas where additional actions can be taken.

“We developed the Respect for All campaign,” explained Moore. “I think it is important to talk about because it is agnostic of race, gender, or sexual orientation, but it’s inclusive as well. I feel that it’s really important because we know that there are some that may feel marginalized when you talk about diversity and inclusion, but there are others who really want more. So, we needed to create an environment where we have respect for not only who people are, but the opinions that they express on a daily basis as well.”

The task force, in its initial company-wide document, has set a goal, “to foster a workplace where all employees feel included, valued and respected, and are treated in such a way that no person feels uncomfortable at work for being who they are.” This campaign is communicated from day one of employment and gently reinforced through leadership levels.

Pluhm, who has been with EN for six years, said she joined the task force because “I want people to feel that they can fully be themselves at work. We’re a professional organization; if you show up and can do the work, you deserve to be shown the same respect as everyone else in the company. You don’t have to change or hide who you are to succeed.”

Moore knows it would be easy to assume he’s on the task force due to his skin color. However, he says, “I want to see women treated equally in the engineering community. That’s the reason I’m here. My main focus is on female equality when it comes to pay, voice, everything. The reason is because, as I was coming up through the utility industry, there were a number of developing female leaders coming up along with me. They gave me opportunities that others may not have, so, by fighting harder for women, I found a little bit of catharsis and understanding of how other people see me.”

As the task force moves forward, they are committed to the goals being introduced company-wide and becoming a part of the onboarding process, reviewing policies, and ensuring that managers and staff are comfortable having conversations on D&I topics.

Recent events around the country are a constant reminder of why the EN task force is critical in showing support for many current and future groups who might feel marginalized. As they look ahead, there are plans to include trainings (unconscious bias) and more inclusive marketing campaigns on social media. The Respect for All campaign will include articles, podcasts, and YouTube videos as well.

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