In February 2020, FirstEnergy’s Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) team piloted interactive “Speak Up” sessions, virtual discussions where employees could engage in meaningful conversations to explore how the use of dialogue can help build relationships, deepen understanding and foster a culture of inclusion.
After a successful start with the pilot series, titled Speak Up: Dialogue about Differences, the D&I team partnered with the company’s MOSaic Employee Business Resource Group (EBRG), an EBRG serving as a resource to employees of color and allies, to host a Speak Up: Dialogue about Racial Inequity and Social Injustice series in response to nationwide protests and other events that put a spotlight on the racial inequalities faced by African Americans. The forums, which were attended by over 2,000 employees, provided a safe space to have open and honest dialogue about racial inequality and social injustice, and discuss how FirstEnergy can continue to further embed diversity and inclusion in its culture.
Speak Up sessions were one of the top ways employees participated in diversity and inclusion activities in 2020, and they continue to play a key role in how the company engages employees working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Most recently, FirstEnergy offered Speak Up sessions on Being a Better Ally, which explored the power of advancing allyship in the workplace. Eight hundred employees participated in the dialogue sessions focused on understanding what an ally is and how to be an actionable ally.
Sessions were also offered for FirstEnergy’s Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) employees in response to acts of tragedy and bias that continue to impact members of the AAPI community. Held exclusively for employees who identify as AAPI, Speak Up Against Violence and Bias provided a safe space for AAPI employees to openly share feelings and experiences and get support.
Tonya Shelton, HR Rep. V