Diversity and Inclusion at AEP
Our Diversity Mission Statement
AEP embraces diversity by respecting the differences, similarities and the cultural experiences, backgrounds, talents, and ideas of our employees, customers, suppliers, and stakeholders. This includes race, ethnicity, religion, sex, gender identity & expression, national origin, sexual orientation, age, physical ability, etc. We envision a culture where diversity is the norm and employees, customers, suppliers and stakeholders of all identities are valued, respected and engaged. We intentionally focus our efforts to leverage differences and similarities in our communities and business.
AEP values an inclusive and diverse business environment for our employees that also reflects the diversity of the communities where we live, work and operate. We are also committed to building a strong base of diverse suppliers who are trusted and dedicated partners with AEP.
At the end of 2016, AEP joined Paradigm for Parity®, a new coalition of employers committed to promoting gender parity in leadership roles, to strengthen our own commitment to workplace diversity. The goal is to achieve gender parity at all levels of corporate leadership by 2030. Paradigm for Parity is the product of two years of benchmarking and study. AEP is one of the first companies to support the initiative, and one of our board members was among its creators.
Paradigm for Parity offers a five-point plan to accelerate gender parity by:
- Eliminating or minimizing unconscious bias in the workplace.
- Significantly increasing the number of women in senior operating roles with the near-term goal of at least 30 percent representation in all leadership groups.
- Measuring targets and maintaining accountability by providing regular progress reports.
- Basing career progress on business results and performance rather than on physical presence in the office.
- Providing sponsors, not just mentors, to women well-positioned for long-term success.
In April 2017, we joined more than 50 of America’s largest corporations and signed the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion pledge. The goal is to work collectively across organizations and business sectors to cultivate a trusting environment where all ideas are welcomed and employees feel comfortable and empowered to discuss diversity and inclusion. The pledge calls on companies to foster an environment where ongoing dialogue about diversity and inclusion occur; implement and expand unconscious bias education; and to share best, as well as unsuccessful, practices.
It is important to us that we become more diverse from the board room to the front line. We track the advancement of women and minorities from front-line craft-level to executive positions, and we consider diversity in every hiring decision and look for development opportunities. Paradigm for Parity will enhance these efforts, providing us a platform to set targets and maintain accountability.
Our Board of Directors, AEP leadership team and regional utility presidents include nine women, two African Americans and two Hispanics. Women make up 30 percent and minorities 13.3 percent of this group.
AEP has made notable progress in leadership diversity for women in the past decade. Since 2007, the percentage of women serving on the AEP Board of Directors has grown from 15.4 percent to 25 percent. Over the same time period, the percentage of regional utility presidents who are women grew from 28.6 percent to 42.9 percent, while the percentage of women in mid-level management rose from 9.7 percent to 13.1 percent, and women in senior management rose from 13.9 percent to 14.7 percent. Being diverse within the upper ranks of the company helps us gain a broader perspective on business issues, allowing us to make better decisions. It also sets an example for more diversity within our work force and in our communities.
Our diversity efforts are fueled by a number of initiatives and programs including employee resource groups (ERG) and leadership development forums, such as the AEP Women’s Leadership Series, which provides networking, mentoring, support and professional development opportunities for our employees. We have partnerships with organizations such as the Center for Energy Workforce Development (CEWD), Direct Employers and the United Negro College Fund to assist us with our diversity recruitment efforts. In 2016, our Human Resources team provided a diverse slate of candidates to our hiring managers 74 percent of the time when a job was being filled.
In recognition of the evolving diversity of our work force in a global economy, AEP has changed policies, benefits, training and other resources to be more inclusive. These efforts have been reflected in our Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Corporate Equality Index score. In 2017, AEP received a perfect score on the index, ranking the company among the 2017 Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality.
AEP’s perfect score was supported by its strong and active employee resource group, the Pride Partnership, as well as its inclusive benefits coverage. AEP provides benefits for same-sex couples and their dependents and offers coverage of transition-related care, based on medical necessity, to individuals who identify as transgender. AEP also provides families with adoption assistance and reimbursement, as well as paid leave for new adoptive parents. The Equality Index has become a benchmarking tool for large U.S. companies to measure the fair, nondiscriminatory treatment of LGBT employees in the workplace, and we are proud of the progress we have made.
Another ERG, Abled and Disabled Allies Partnering Together (ADAPT), was one of the driving forces behind AEP’s recognition as one of the nation’s 2016 Best Places to Work in the Disability Equality Index (DEI) Annual Survey performed by the U.S. Business Leadership Network (USBLN). The DEI is a national, transparent, annual benchmarking tool that offers businesses an opportunity to receive an objective score on their disability inclusion policies and practices.
The tool helps companies identify opportunities for continued improvement to build a reputation as an employer of choice. AEP received a score of 80 out of 100. The Index gives us a baseline of where we are today and highlights areas for improvement to ensure we are providing an environment that enables full inclusion of people with disabilities.
To coordinate and further advance our efforts, AEP’s Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Council reinforces our commitment to an inclusive work environment that is diverse not only in age, ethnicity and gender but also in thought, experience, skills and ideas.
The Council’s role is to ensure alignment of our initiatives, monitor our progress and provide guidance companywide. The Council will design and support implementation of AEP’s diversity and inclusion strategy focusing on three key areas - our workforce, our customers and our diverse suppliers.