About a year and a half ago, during workforce reviews in 2019, Rita Lucaj, manager, Human Resources Client Relations and Ryan Stowe, vice president, Distribution Operations, highlighted a need to increase diversity in hiring for front line operations jobs. To address the gender, racial and ethnic diversity gaps, an in-depth analysis of the previous posting candidate flow was conducted. This analysis led to the need to increase awareness and outreach, remove job qualification and hiring process barriers.


A team from DO, HR Consulting, Talent Acquisition, Workforce Development, Testing, and HR Analytics came together to develop and implement meaningful and sustainable changes to support diversity. As a result of the team’s work, they saw significant improvements in the diversity of their 2020 hiring for front-line operations jobs. HR used the metrics they had in hand to problem solve and redesign steps in the recruiting process where they saw lack of diversity, or diversity fall off. 

“As a team we were able to implement deliberate changes in each step of the process, starting from growing the diversity of the candidate pools by increasing awareness of our jobs with community organizations and exposing candidates to our work and processes via readiness workshops,” said Rita.

Awareness and Outreach

Our Workforce Development team and the company’s Energy Groups helped expand the recruiting outreach to diversity-based organizations and groups like Women in Skilled Trades, Blacks in Energy, Veterans associations, National Association of Black Women in Construction, Electrical Workers Minority Caucus, military bases and many more. Our communications team used social media to market DTE jobs to specific audiences.

“The best part of the process was the information sessions we held with our community partners to share the opportunities that are available at DTE,” said Brittany Gray, Senior HR Client Relations Consultant. “Hearing the stories from employees who have grown throughout their careers at DTE and the excitement from prospective applicants about the career and development opportunities available here was a great reminder of why I am so thankful to be an employee at DTE.”

Sid Kinnard, manager, Distribution Operations and a member of REACH, helped lead the campaign for outreach. Sid and George Mundorf, director, Regional Customer Operations, expanded the external campaign to church and community groups that were previously untapped resources.

This change in process hit home personally for Sid, who said his own life would have turned out differently if he had not found the resources when he did.

“I went into the military and found my path there, but my younger brother, who stayed in the neighborhood we grew up in, he didn’t find his path, and today he’s no longer with us because of that,” Sid said. “I know that by changing our recruiting process, by opening the door to access these opportunities, we are changing the paths of so many lives.”​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Recruiting Process Changes

In addition to increasing the diversity of the applicant pools the team worked together to ensure each step in the hiring process was reviewed for unintentional barriers and unconscious bias.

This included expanding preferred qualifications to allow for more diverse backgrounds, adding diverse panels to the review and interview steps, updating the skills assessments forms to pass or fail and updating interview guides to hire for a heart for service.

​​​​​​​“We are an organization of skilled trades, and this has been about opening access to qualified talent, skilled individuals who are fully capable of succeeding and are only held back by lack of access. We want to be representative of the diverse communities we live and work in,” said Ryan. “The thing I’m proudest about is we’ve done it the right way and we’re getting really good candidates who are caring, dependable, efficient.”

Expanding the preferred qualifications allowed for opportunities and access to candidates with a diverse skillset, which infuses different thinking and strengthens the organization overall.

The deliberate steps of ensuring diverse panels for the resume review, skills assessments and interviews helped leadership counter unconscious bias that everyone has.

“I’ve never been prouder to work in HR than right now, where I have the opportunity to truly make an impact on our companies’ success by designing processes that ensure diversity, equity and inclusion are at the forefront,” said Rita.


The results of their new recruiting process with a focus on diversity speak volumes: for those specific jobs openings (Apprentice Lineman, Associate Planner in Training, Field Service Representative, Single Phase Residential Service Rep), the increase in diversity hiring went from 18% in 2017 to 45% in 2020.

“Our ability to give our diverse customer base the appropriate services hinge on our ability to come up with diverse ideas, service, and products,” said Joseph Musallam, director, Regional Customer Operations for Distribution Operations. 

“A great way to do that, is to add diversity to our teams in all different areas of the company. There was a code cracked here, and the work DO is doing in collaboration with HR has helped lay the framework to add more opportunity to under-represented populations in the Metro Detroit area and will increase the strength of our company.”