What is one of Michigan’s largest employers doing to build a more diverse and inclusive workforce?

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On Monday, June 12, 2017, DTE Energy Chairman and CEO Gerry Anderson and 150 of his peers launched “CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion,” an unprecedented commitment to advance diversity and inclusion in the workplace. 

The CEOs pledged to support open dialogue on difficult conversations about diversity and inclusion and implement unconscious bias education to help employees recognize and minimize potential blind spots. The third component involves sharing experiences that work – and those that don’t work – on the CEOaction.com diversity and inclusion hub.   

As part of the national discussion, Diane Antishin, DTE Energy’s vice president of HR Operations, talks about our company’s best practices around diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

At DTE, we are building a more diverse and inclusive workforce while simultaneously strengthening the engagement of our 10,000 employees.

With the employee turnover we expect over the next several years, we are concentrating heavily on initiatives that support our aspiration to be a force for growth in our communities.  These initiatives are focused on creating greater job opportunity for those who are underserved in our region, while also positively impacting diversity in the talent pipeline for future DTE jobs.

Beginning this summer, we are launching a new program that will have 35 students from high school career and technical centers like Cody and Randolph in Detroit who we have been directly recruited to participate in an internship program to prepare them for jobs in the energy industry.

The new internship program features training, meaningful job experiences, and wrap-around services such as mentoring and transportation to ensure a successful outcome for program participants.

Through this program, students are gaining valuable exposure to electric and gas skilled trades jobs, and are committing to pursue post-secondary education that will qualify them for great jobs in ours and similar industries in the future.

Another form of outreach is our support of summer youth employment.

At 29 percent, youth unemployment in the city of Detroit is far higher than in other major urban centers around the country, which range from 8-19 percent. One of the factors driving high youth unemployment in our city is limited access to high-quality summer job experiences.

Studies show that students who have summer jobs are likely to stay in school, gain marketable skills, have better educational success, have better health outcomes, and stay positively focused on their future potential.

Other urban centers across the country have tackled this challenge by establishing well-managed, large-scale and high-quality summer youth employment programs. The city of Detroit’s Grow Detroit’s Young Talent (GDYT) is our local effort that DTE Energy is proud to support.

This year, the DTE Energy Foundation funded more than 600 summer jobs to employ youth in and around Detroit, and other Michigan communities, including Pontiac, Highland Park, Muskegon, Baldwin, Muskegon Heights, Traverse City and Big Rapids.

Our internal hiring programs are also focused on students in the Detroit area and across the state.

As in past years, between our student co-op and summer employment programs, we hire over 500 students from the local area each year.

This year, we are also launching a GDYT affiliate program that creates opportunities for 35 local young people to join us for the summer in our office and professional areas, and continuing our Summer Talent Exposure Program (STEP), an internship program for another 35 college students, primarily from the Detroit area.

These programs will provide learning experiences as well as soft/life skills training, mentors and other support services.

At the same time, we’re looking at programs to help young people who are differently-abled succeed.  Programs like our Project Search serve young adults with cognitive disabilities.  Our Project Search students work on-site with business units for an entire academic year for an internship experience.

While we’re reaching out to youth and adults across our community as potential new employees, we also want to keep all of our employees engaged – whether they’ve worked here one year or 20 years.

One of the ways we engage employees in our diversity and inclusion work is by encouraging them to join our “Energy Groups.” These affinity groups support Asian and Middle Eastern American, Black, Hispanic/Latino, LGBT and young professional employees as well as veterans, women and differently abled individuals.

Energy Groups are now highly active in creating a sense of belonging at DTE.  Membership has tripled in comparison to 2016.

Knowing that building a truly diverse and inclusive workplace is an ongoing journey, I’m proud that we at DTE are taking a leadership role in this.