June 19, 2020 - By John Failla, Smart Energy Decisions
Inspiring Diversity in Energy
The energy industry has a diversity problem. Let’s work together to address it.
In October 2019, the Wall Street Journal cited the energy industry as 10th out of 11 industries measured in their article “The Business Case for More Diversity.”
We took our first step in addressing the issue at our Accelerate Philly event last December, but it wasn’t easy. Our event partners at the Philadelphia Energy Authority (PEA) suggested we program a session on the topic and neither our team nor the event steering committee could figure out how to do it in a meaningful way. We asked PEA’s Executive Director Emily Schapira and their advisor, Nancy Mifflin to work with us on it and they put together a powerful session featuring Carolyn Green, managing principal, Casa Verde Energy Services, and Darlene Philips, Senior Director of Operations, Engineering Support at PJM. You can read highlights of their session on page 12 of our Accelerate Philly Insights report at this link. We remain grateful to Ken Cowan from ENGIE North America for his commitment to the Accelerate Philly event and his support, which made the entire event possible.
Their message was thought-provoking and inspiring. It opened the eyes and hearts of many at the event. Mine included. The sentiment of those in attendance was reflected in a comment from one of our steering committee members. When I asked if we should address the topic at future events, he said “I can’t imagine how you don’t do it, John. Once you hear their story, you can’t unhear it”.
In concert with the Accelerate Philly event, PEA introduced us to a group that we’d like to see have a higher profile in the industry – the American Association of Blacks in Energy. We support AABE and look forward to working with them in the future. You can visit their website here and if you want more information on their meaningful work, you can reach out to their President & CEO Paula Glover.
While energy industry news coverage of COVID-19 and the shutdown of the economy has been extensive, I can’t recall seeing coverage in energy industry media (including SED) of the events following the murder of George Floyd and the ensuing reflection by companies in our industry regarding their commitment to diversity and inclusion. We can and must do better. SED will step up and I invite our peers in energy industry media to join us and do the same.
Going forward, as Founder of Smart Energy Decisions, I pledge to have a more diverse group of voices in our digital media, at our events, and on our Advisory Board. This column serves as the first in a series of efforts to Inspire Diversity in Energy. You’ll be hearing more from us.
John Failla is Founder and Editorial Director of Smart Energy Decisions. He has more than 30 years of experience in B2B media as an executive responsible for developing and managing digital media products, magazines, and face-to-face events.