People, Policy, & Power: Shining a Light on How People and Companies Are Advancing Equity in the Workplace and in the World
March is Women’s History Month, a chance to commemorate women who have blazed the trail to advance gender equity and reflect on how women show up in the world every day of the year. For almost 50 years, WE has been at the forefront of advocating for fair, safe, inclusive, and equitable workplaces and increasing access to education and training that leads to good jobs. And as a nonprofit organization, our work is made possible by generous support from people like YOU and partners like ComEd.
ComEd is a longtime partner of Women Employed and the lead sponsor of our upcoming signature annual event, The Working Lunch. This month we sat down with Diana Sharpe, WE Board member and Vice President of Large Customer Operations at ComEd, to talk about how people and companies can use their power to advance gender equity—both in the workplace and in the world.
WE: How do you use your power to advance equity?
DS: I am fortunate to have the opportunity to use my power to advance equity. Through the economic and workforce development efforts I lead in my day-to-day career, I create strategies, develop plans, and remove barriers for those who have historically been underserved and underrepresented. This work is important to me, and that’s why I invest my time and money in organizations with similar missions, such as serving on the Women Employed (WE) board of directors. I also recognize that the power to advance equity, in part, starts with having a seat and voice at the table. So I work to develop other leaders—particularly women and people of color—to increase the diverse thoughts, ideas, and experiences that help shape policy.
WE: How does ComEd prioritize efforts to advance gender equity in the workplace?
DS: At ComEd, we are committed to growing a skilled and diverse talent pipeline that can help us continue to provide reliable service while innovating to meet the new demands of our four million customers across northern Illinois. This work starts with investments at the local level to provide opportunities for the communities we serve to be a part of the growth at ComEd. And we are steadfast in our commitment to delivering on our pledge to remove barriers and increase opportunities so that more women and people of color can join careers in STEM and our industry. Our plans for the future rely on the talented people who work every day in the field, in the office, and everywhere in between to provide the excellent service our customers count on. We are proud to be represented by a diverse leadership team, with nearly 40 percent of our executive leadership positions occupied by women. As our industry plays a leading role in the clean energy revolution, we are focused on recruiting top-caliber talent. That talent must reflect the diversity and strength of the communities we are proud to serve. And that includes getting more women into STEM roles in our company. Study after study will tell you that a diverse workforce is a more robust, more productive workforce. That is why we are investing in equity-centered workforce development programs to help recruit more women to join the energy industry in various roles. Our investments are broad, ranging from scholarship programs to skilled trades training programs and barrier reduction initiatives to help more job seekers pass the test for good-paying construction jobs. Our CONSTRUCT program, for example, has focused on supporting more women entering the trades—and roughly 30 percent of our 700 grads to date are women. And then, once they get here, ComEd and our Exelon family are committed to ongoing professional development opportunities to help women leaders advance in their careers. And we regularly review the market, our industry, and our internal salaries to ensure those women are paid equitably for their work each day.
WE: What does Corporate Social Responsibility mean to ComEd?
DS: ComEd sees our role in the community as more than just a power company; we are powering lives. Our team is committed to enhancing the quality of life in the places we live and work. Every year our team is proud to support local organizations with strong ties to the community and a demonstrated track record of helping solve issues that our residents care about, from the expansion of community arts programs to workforce training, community development, and beyond. In 2021 alone, ComEd employees raised $2 million for local philanthropy—and our team volunteered over 12,000 hours. Our community giving includes WE—a vital organization focused on closing the wealth gap at the intersection of race and gender. WE helps bring more area women into careers where they can grow their skills, support their families, and build generational wealth. We’re proud of our partnership with WE and delighted to invest in an organization dedicated to equity, inclusivity, and advancement for women in the workplace.
Visit Women Employed’s website to learn more about how your company can advance equity in your workplace, including leveraging our resources to help your company combat sexual harassment, ensure that you are an equitable employer for domestic workers, and make sure you’re in compliance with Illinois’ No Salary History Law.
Your company can partner with Women Employed to advance equity across our state and nation. Learn about opportunities to join ComEd and dozens of other companies committed to advancing equity by becoming a sponsor for our upcoming May 17, 2022 luncheon.