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Culture Shock

By 2020, nearly half the workforce will be female and non-white. Are utilities ready?
Fortnightly Magazine - June 1 2003

says a bottom-up process simply cannot work. "Where goes the head, the body follows."

In many instances, a vital clue to the level of management's commitment to achieving diversity is whether the diversity officer reports directly to the CEO. Often, diversity experts say, if the diversity officer reports to the head of human resources (HR), the ability to implement a strong diversity program is limited. And Fontenot-Jamerson agrees, even though she herself reports to Sempra's senior vice president of HR, Joyce Rowland. "[Rowland] is a true diversity champion. But if it were any other person, I would say I could otherwise be more effective" reporting directly to the CEO. In most other circumstances, Fontenot-Jamerson says, the diversity officer needs to report to the CEO directly to ensure the strongest implementation of diversity programs.

If companies don't take the lead on making themselves more diverse, regulators may well step in. Carl Wood, a commissioner at the California Public Utilities Commission, has already voiced his support for making California utilities accountable for diversity in their workplaces.

Yet in the end, regulatory pressure is not nearly as likely to motivate action as is the simple need to fill open positions with the best possible candidates. Waiting until women and minorities comprise half the workforce before realizing the benefits of diversity is a losing bet for utilities.

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