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Diversity In Action

Exelon offers passion & commitment to diversity

The huge utility's key strategies center around workforce diversity, supplier diversity, civic and social commitment, and education and support

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Rey Gonzales, Exelon VP of diversity: successful initiatives start at the top.

Rey Gonzales, Exelon VP of diversity: successful initiatives start at the top.

'I personally believe that diversity should not be owned by the diversity office," says Rey Gonzales, VP of diversity at Exelon. "You have to have passion and commitment to diversity in the business units."

Exelon lays the foundation for diversity with four key strategies: workforce diversity, supplier diversity, civic and social commitment, and education and support.

Successful diversity initiatives start at the top, Gonzales notes. "John Rowe, our chairman, joined the company in 1998 and he is our number one champion for diversity." Rowe has been the executive sponsor of the company's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employee network group, Exelon Pride, since it began in 2000.

Exelon's executive diversity council was also launched in 2000. It's made up of execs from the company's business units, "to ensure that each functional area in the company has representation," Gonzales explains.

The council's mission is to set the company's diversity goals and recommend corporate-wide diversity strategies. On the council's recommendation, Exelon has established a women's employee network group and launched diversity education initiatives.

Exelon's diversity training program focuses on the business case for inclusion. It started about three years ago and is offered to all the company's business units. "They've embraced the training and made it mandatory for their respective businesses," Gonzales says.

The program was initially launched for first-line supervisors and above. Since then it's been cascaded throughout the organization. All management training programs, in fact, include segments on diversity training, so people are exposed to the training at all levels of the organization.

Gonzales considers Exelon's employee network groups, each with its own intranet page, an important part of the company's overall diversity strategy. "They are part of the social networking that needs to take place, and a valuable retention tool for us."

The groups are self-initiated and inclusive, he says. For example, men are welcome as members of the women's network group, and you don't have to be Hispanic to join the Hispanic group or Asian to be part of the Asian group.

"Many of our execs and senior managers participate in all the network groups. We call it a universal membership," Gonzales adds with a smile.

The network groups support the company's key diversity strategies. For example, the Organization of Latinos at Exelon (OLE) recently sponsored a meeting where CEO John Rowe talked about key points of leadership. That meeting drew a massive attendance. "To hear that from the chairman, it doesn't matter if you're Hispanic or not," Gonzales points out.

The Network of Exelon Women (NEW) offered a series on "lessons in leadership," including interesting panel discussions.

The groups also help the company solidify its image in the community, Gonzales notes. They participate in local cultural events, provide welcome mentoring and tutoring, and sometimes award scholarships to candidates put up by community-based organizations.

"We're a utility," Gonzales says. "Our plants and transformers are here to stay, and we believe it's part of our core mission to be good corporate citizens and partners with all the communities we serve."

The corporation also partners with colleges, universities and national organizations like SHPE, NSBE, the American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE) and SWE. It recently sponsored a networking reception and panel discussion at a SWE event in Anaheim, CA.

"We developed a national and a local strategy to be true partners with these organizations," Gonzales says. "We not only contribute to the organizations, but we help strengthen them by participating on their boards of directors. We roll up our sleeves and help the organizations with development and strategic direction."

Exelon has reps on the boards of SWE, AABE, the Spanish Coalition for Jobs, Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement and El Valor, an organization that serves adults with disabilities.

In addition to the specific work the affinity groups do, the corporation itself offers scholarships and partners with the Chicago public school system in math and science tutoring. At the other end of its service area, it participates in the Greater Philadelphia Urban Affairs Foundation. It's also the primary sponsor for the Hispanic Scholarship Directory and the Exelon/United Way Stay-in-School partnership.


Exelon Corp www.exeloncorp.com

Headquarters: Chicago, IL
Employees: 17,000
Revenues: $15 billion in 2005
Business: Utility services holding and energy delivery


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