Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
In 2020, racial and social justice movements took center stage in the public consciousness as activism for equal rights, social equity, racial justice and public safety grew at an exponential rate. Many companies took a stand on social issues, seeking to be part of the change, whether through corporate activism or social responsibility. AEP was among them. We value a supportive, inclusive business environment for our employees that reflects the diversity of the communities where we live, work and operate. We are committed to providing opportunities for all employees to advance and unlock the power of perspectives to better serve our customers, drive innovation and generate sustainable growth for our company.
Diversity, equity and inclusion are key components of our business strategy. A diverse, inclusive and highly engaged workforce not only improves organizational performance but also improves company culture – creating an environment that welcomes different experiences, beliefs, ideas, backgrounds and thoughts. It also is essential to remaining competitive and being able to attract and retain the best talent.
Our Diversity & Inclusion Vision: We are committed to a culture where differences are valued and recognized as a significant, positive influence on AEP’s ability to serve and support our employees, customers, suppliers and other key stakeholders.
We continue to work on our Diversity & Inclusion Strategic Plan Roadmap to 2025 and we are making progress. The Roadmap sets goals and targets to increase the inclusion and advancement of underrepresented groups such as women and people of color, and establishes leadership accountability. To help foster these efforts, we will measure our 2021 progress to enterprise, business unit and operating company annual incentive compensation objectives. These objectives are measured through anonymous responses to questions in the annual employee culture survey, relative to Gallup’s overall company level database.
In addition, the Human Resources Committee of the Board of Directors provides independent oversight of our compensation and human resources policies and practices, including an annual review of our diversity and inclusion strategy, results and compliance with equal opportunity laws.
The importance of diversity and inclusion extends beyond our workforce to include the customers and communities we serve and our suppliers. Learn more in the Supply Chain Diversity section.
We are committed to disclosing our diversity performance and other human capital management data, including:
- A Call to Action
The racial and social unrest that swept across the country led to a nationwide call for race education and awareness. In response, we took a bold stand denouncing all forms of racism and committed to have candid conversations about the impact of race and racism in the workplace. AEP’s Chairman, President and CEO joined nearly 2,000 other CEOs as a signatory to the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion pledge, the largest CEO-driven business commitment to advance diversity and inclusion within the workplace. We also supported a City Council resolution in Columbus, Ohio, declaring racism a public health crisis.
We believe that to move forward, we have to understand how race, racism, biases and beliefs impact the workforce. That is one reason we launched the “Seize the Moment: Let’s Keep the Momentum Going” action plan to help accelerate our diversity and inclusion strategy.
Elements of “Seize the Moment” include:
- Town Hall Webcasts: We created a series of town hall webcasts featuring AEP employees sharing personal experiences of biases and racism. The intent of the webcasts is to help employees navigate conversations about race and hear others’ perspectives. Conversations focused on topics such as biracial marriage; being the only one in the room; and, the history of racial inequality and white privilege in America, featuring a renowned antiracist activist.
- Leader Video Conferences: We conducted a “Let’s Talk” session with the top 20 African American leaders at AEP to discuss their experience and challenges as leaders. In addition, we brought in a renowned antiracist activist to speak to our top 250 leaders about racism in the workplace. During the session, leaders were asked to take a personal inventory of how race has affected their lives and encouraged organizations to take a radical inventory of policies and procedures at all levels, such as hiring, job evaluations and procurement practices.
- Safe Space Conversations: We facilitated virtual “Safe Space Conversations” for employees to discuss how current race and equity issues impact them in the workplace and in their personal lives. AEP’s Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) liaisons were trained to lead the discussions.
- Stand Up for Diversity: AEP leaders will participate in a companywide Stand Up for Diversity to have candid and focused conversations about racism.
- Leader Videos: Several of AEP’s leaders created video messages to raise awareness about the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion at AEP.
- Social and Racial Justice Grant Program: We are expanding the AEP Foundation’s philanthropic reach to help address social justice in our service territory. We created a new social and racial justice grant program “Delivering the Dream.” With a multi-year $5 million commitment, our intent is to play a pivotal role in eliminating systemic racism and embrace change and equity for neighbors of color, customers and employees. We want our corporate words on these important issues to match with visible actions. Learn more in our Community Engagement section.
The Power of our People: Driving the Conversation
The racial and social unrest that swept across the country led to a nationwide call for race education and awareness. During 2020, issues of racism and social inequities were brought to light. Our employees were often at the forefront of leading change.
Marketta Franklin, Director of Transmission and Distribution Learning and Development at AEP, organized a group of employees to support the interactive portion of the TEDx King-Lincoln Bronzeville event. Sponsored by AEP Ohio, the event was held in an historic African-American area in Columbus, Ohio, which is home to the historic Lincoln Theater and the King Arts Complex. This neighborhood was the heart of an affluent African-American business and entertainment district in the 1930s and ‘40s. The name TEDx King-Lincoln Bronzeville commemorates the history and contemporary vibrancy of the area.
The 2020 theme was “Kwanzaa 365: Driving the Conversation Toward Liberation”. Its goal was to highlight the diversity of the neighborhood and show how their experiences connect to national and global narratives. Speakers shared stories about how to live the Kwanzaa principles throughout the year and promote diversity in schools, government and healthcare.
- Partnerships for Success
We fuel our diversity efforts through a number of internal and external initiatives, programs and partnerships. Through educational institutions, professional associations, community organizations, employee resource groups (ERGs) and leadership development forums, we focus on building and fostering partnerships that give us greater access to diverse talent.
We are proud to support and participate in a number of partnerships, including Paradigm for Parity®, the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion™ pledge, and the Columbus Commitment: Achieving Pay Equity, and we recently announced our commitment to the City of Tulsa’s Pay Equity Pledge in Oklahoma. We also have relationships with many diverse organizations such as the National Society of Black Engineers, Prospanica and Human Rights Campaign (HRC). These partnerships provide access to more diverse talent and help us become a recognized partner and leader among potential employees. We also have alliances with several colleges and universities that are helping us develop a diverse talent pipeline.
In addition, we are committed to providing a trusting and inclusive work environment by empowering employees to engage and lead in our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). Our ERGs reflect the diverse makeup of our workforce and provide valuable insight into the diverse communities we serve. They also help increase engagement across the company by giving employees a safe space to discuss work-related issues and to develop innovative solutions. ERG members are active community volunteers supporting efforts such as Project Mentor and Make a Difference Day. ERGs are integral to AEP’s diversity and inclusion efforts, including recruitment of new employees.
ERGs at AEP
- Abled and Disabled Allies Partnering Together (ADAPT)
- African-American Employee Resource Group (AAERG)
- Asian-American Employee Partnership (AAEP)
- Hispanic Origin Latin American (HOLA) Employee Resource Group
- Military Veteran Employee Resource Group
- Native American Employee Resource Group (NAERG)
- Pride Partnership
- Valuing Organizational Improvement and Community Excellence (VOICE fosters an inclusive work environment that promotes respect and value of employees through cultural awareness)