By Matt Nauman
PG&E takes a broad-based approach to diversity. The company hires a workforce that mirrors the diversity of its customer base. It has Employee Resource Groups to help support and mentor its diverse employees and a chief diversity officer as a top leader.
It spends more than a third of its procurement funds – about $1.6 billion dollars in 2011 — on products and services from businesses owned by minorities, women and service-disabled veterans.
And, in Washington, D.C., the company’s Federal Affairs staff represents the interests of PG&E’s diverse customers and communities.
In recent weeks, PG&E has worked with several groups in Washington.
HOPE: Hispanas Organized for Political Equality
The statewide, non-profit organization first approached PG&E in 1999 with a study funded by the California Endowment that showed that Hispanic-American women preparing for careers in public office face unique cultural dynamics and nuances in their respective bids for office. PG&E recognized the importance of this issue and made an early investment in HOPE’s nine-month leadership institute by providing $50,000 and the use of the company’s San Ramon Learning Center for the inaugural session of the Leadership Institute. Today, PG&E remains the top corporate donor to HOPE’s Leadership Institute.
Over the years, HOPE’s Leadership Institute has turned out a U.S. Treasurer, a member of the California State Assembly and scores of other elected and appointed officials. Last week in Washington, D.C., HOPE culminated its last session of the 2013 program by commemorating the occasion with a graduation in the Cash Room of the U.S. Treasury, a tradition first started in 2001.
Silvia Aldana, a PG&E manager of federal affairs in Washington, delivered remarks before the class and introduced current U.S. Treasurer Rosie Rios.
“Economic, educational and political empowerment within our diverse communities positively impacts PG&E’s long-term growth and success,” said Aldana. “We want to see elected and appointed officials mirroring the communities they represent and HOPE’s Leadership Institute is one way to help ensure that happens.”
CHCI: Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute
PG&E’s work with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) are examples of the company’s long-term collaborations with non-profit national stakeholder groups. PG&E has been a supporter of both organizations since the late 1990s when it began with modest investments in each, and the partnerships have grown since then.
Last week, Yonnie Leung, senior manager in PG&E’s workforce development department, participated in a panel moderated by Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA) highlighting Latinos in the military.
“Military veterans have demonstrated they have many of the skills employers are seeking, including leadership, strong work ethic, discipline, and a focus on safety, to name a few,” said Costa. “PG&E is smart to make recruiting these talented individuals a priority.”
Leung’s focus was on the transition to the workforce that military veterans face when returning from service. Her discussion centered on PG&E’s PowerPathway initiative. Through PowerPathway programs, PG&E and its partners have trained more than 320 people. So far, 180 graduates have been military veterans and nearly 70 percent of them have been hired by PG&E or another utility company.
“PG&E is leading an effort to translate military occupational specialty codes not only to hire veterans with specific experiences but also in order to develop additional veterans-focused training programs to support our returning military service men and women to transition into PG&E and energy industry jobs.” Leung said.
CHCI recently held its 35th Annual Policy Summit and Gala, honoring members of the Hispanic American community who have made significant contributions to the community. This year’s event was held on September 13th in Washington, with Vice President Joe Biden as the keynote speaker.
A member of the board of directors of CHCI, PG&E’s Aldana participated in presenting an award to one of this year’s Medallion of Excellence awardees, comedian George Lopez.
“To most of us, Mr. Lopez is most familiar as an actor on TV and in films,” said Aldana, “but what we aren’t as familiar with is how he uses his celebrity to make a difference in the Hispanic community, and it is for these efforts that he is being recognized by CHCI.”
CBCF: Congressional Black Caucus Foundation
This week, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation will host its 42nd Annual Legislative Conference and Gala. First Lady Michelle Obama is scheduled to address gala attendees. CBCF, like CHCI, is comprised of members of Congress and corporate representatives.
Currently chaired by U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II (D-MO), CBCF’s immediate past chair is U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, who represents the greater Oakland area. The organization’s mission is to develop leaders, inform public policy, and educate the public and the African-American community on key issues. The legislative conference and gala provide PG&E with an opportunity to further build and cultivate relationships by inviting community and business representatives from California to participate in the week-long activities in Washington, DC.
CHCI and CBCF each host a wide variety of leadership development programs intended to create awareness of the realm of opportunity for students and young adults in public office. Hispanic and African Americans are under-represented in these fields and the galas for CBCF and CHCI represent the two respective organizations’ most significant annual fundraising efforts for their leadership development initiatives.
Email Matt Nauman at email@example.com.