Understanding – and Overcoming – Bias
Building a culture where differences are recognized and valued is at the heart of FirstEnergy’s diversity and inclusion efforts. Company wide training – beginning with the leadership team – has focused on understanding and overcoming our unconscious biases.
Starting in March 2016, FirstEnergy held Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Awareness for Management training – with a focus on unconscious bias – to help ensure those in leadership roles are fostering an environment where diverse opinions and viewpoints are valued and encouraged. This includes considering qualified candidates for hiring, project assignments and other important decisions. The training was recommended and piloted by our Executive D&I Council and was completed in February 2017.
General employee training – again, focused on unconscious bias – began this past January and is scheduled to be completed in August 2017. The focus is on helping employees better understand the strategic importance and value of an inclusive work environment. In addition to professional trainers, employees throughout the company were trained to lead the sessions.
FirstEnergy engaged external consultants to train more than 2,400 members of management in diversity and inclusion awareness. Management responded positively to the training, citing increased understanding of the role unconscious bias can play in day-to-day business decisions, as well as a better understanding of the D&I business imperatives. To ensure management continues to receive diversity and inclusion training, it has been incorporated into our New Supervisor/Manager (NSM) training series.
Our company created a leadership-building opportunity for employees to serve as D&I Champions. D&I Champions are employees who have an interest in having an impact on FirstEnergy’s workplace climate and culture through supporting D&I initiatives. Our company trained 105 employees to facilitate diversity and inclusion dialogue using a customized program. D&I Champions are responsible for facilitating workshops that do the following:
- Define diversity and inclusion at FirstEnergy
- Provide the business imperative for diversity and inclusion
- Increase unconscious bias awareness to minimize its impact on the workplace
- Develop individual and team action plans
More than 9,500 employees have been trained in unconscious bias. In post-session surveys, employees reported an overall positive response to the training, increased business imperative and aspiration awareness, recognition of personal conscious and unconscious bias, and commitment to having a positive impact on our company’s culture.
On the horizon is a multiyear training series for management and employees.