Smart Energy Voices- Episode 24 - Smart Energy Decisions

Smart Energy Voices- Episode 24

Inspiring Diversity in Energy with Telisa Toliver

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The wake-up call came a few years ago when the Wall Street Journal ranked energy at 10 out of 11 fields in a survey on diversity in businesses. Since then, Smart Energy Decisions has worked to raise the profile of this issue with its series “Inspiring Diversity in Energy.” This edition features a discussion with Telisa Toliver, General Manager of Renewable Power for Chevron and Debra Chanil, SED’s Director of Research and Content. Telisa has almost 30 years of experience in the energy industry and has first-hand knowledge about the improvements necessary to move the industry to the next level. Listen as Telisa shares her insight into inspiring diversity in energy.

You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in...

  • Telisa’s experience in the energy industry [3:18]
  • The internship that started Telisa’s career [5:13]
  • The value of mentorship [8:26]
  • Diversity in the energy field outside the US [10:00]
  • The creative aspect of oil and gas [14:38]
  • Telisa’s involvement with AABE (American Association of Blacks in Energy) [16:13]

What is diversity?

While the concept of diversity is evolving, it is often viewed in the U.S from a legal perspective. However, since oil and gas are global industries, the definition has to go beyond country borders. Diversity and inclusion must be considered aside from regulations and become an integral part of a company’s culture. For example, while a company could be considered diverse simply because half of its employees are outside of the U.S., it may still have a limited representation of women in leadership. In the U.S., women and minorities often aren’t well represented in the pipeline or on boards. For companies to improve diversity on a cultural level, a strategic approach is imperative. Breaking through cultural barriers doesn’t happen accidentally. Rather, a focus on action is the key to a better, more inclusive work environment.

Relationships are key to diversity

Telisa expresses the importance of trust and relationships to those she mentors. She explains that some of those relationships happen organically while others have to be intentionally cultivated. Leaders can set an example for employees to seek relationships by working in a way that values mentorship. People will feel like they’re worth being invested in and will prosper. This uplifting level of connection is vital to maintain continued growth throughout one’s career. The process for building these relationships is ongoing. From the start of an employee’s career to the end, leaders should encourage their employees to reach out to others in the company so they both can benefit from each other’s experiences. Without that personal connection to a company’s culture, employees will feel isolated. However, employees with internal role models will feel empowered and supported.

What support is there to improve diversity in the workplace?

Telisa has been part of the American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE) for ten years and is currently the chairman of the board. AABE’s mission is to provide direct input into the deliberations and developments of energy policies, regulations, emerging technologies, and environmental issues. Telisa explains how the focus of the organization has been shifting more toward leadership because minorities often don’t have the same access to those positions. AABE encourages leadership growth among minorities through scholarships to students and ongoing support for equity. Racial equity is a business imperative that is often mistakenly thought of as a short-term solution, but it’s a long-term play. Diversification will result in life-long benefits to the industry because it results in employees who feel valued. Instilling the heart of valuing people doesn’t happen without effort. Leadership and courage are required in diversity discussions and will ultimately make the difference in the energy industry from what it is to what it can be: an inclusive environment that supports the livelihoods of its people worldwide.

Resources mentioned in today's episode

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Connect with Telisa

Telisa Toliver serves as General Manager for Chevron Pipeline and Power. This business unit provides technical, commercial, operational, and energy management support services globally to Chevron’s Upstream and Downstream & Chemicals businesses. Its owned and operated pipeline assets span 3,000 miles, supporting Chevron’s operations across seven U.S. states and transporting over 1.2 million barrels a day. Its power function manages or operates 900 megawatts of natural-gas-fired steam and renewable power assets. Its energy management services evaluate energy use and find solutions to improve operational efficiency, reduce cost and address Chevron’s critical energy challenges across the globe. Telisa was named to her current position in 2019 and leads the development and implementation of the Renewable Power Strategy across Chevron’s global enterprise. Telisa is also responsible for developing and implementing power market strategies that will enhance Chevron’s operations and new investments. Telisa currently serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors of the American Association of Blacks in Energy. She’s also a member of the Executive Leadership Council. Recently Telisa co‐authored “The Energy Within Us” describing her career journey in the energy sector.

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