What is PSEG doing to ensure that everyone has the best workplace experience? What is the most common misconception about diversity, equity and inclusion? Does DEI differ among generations? When it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion, there always is more to learn. We continue our series with Janeen Johnson, PSEG’s enterprise DEI manager, to learn the answers to these questions and more.
What is PSEG doing to ensure that everyone has the best workplace experience?
Johnson: PSEG prides itself on creating an inclusive workplace environment where employees feel that they are a part of something bigger than themselves. We have 14 Employee Business Resource Groups at PSEG comprising union and nonunion employees. These groups drive culture change for our workforce and our diverse customer base through cultural engagement events, learning and professional development opportunities and community service. We also have a DEI Council comprising 25 committed DEI champions from all lines of business, representing all levels of employment. From an individual contributor to the president and COO, these champions meet monthly to learn about various social issues impacting our culturally and ethnically diverse workforce. Their goal? To identify ways to support our strong safety culture through building employee engagement and empathy toward one another.
What is an EBRG?
Johnson: EBRGs are groups of employees who voluntarily come together based on shared characteristics, life experiences and interests. These programs help enhance employee engagement and provide opportunities for networking, career development and community outreach. EBRGs also help to create a stronger company culture and provide an opportunity to build leadership and collaboration skills.
What do you think is the most common misconception about DEI, and how do you think it can be explained so people can move forward? Do you think that progress will be easy?
Johnson: One of the most common misconceptions is that if we do not belong to a diverse population, we are somehow wrong or irrelevant. Diversity does not mean “everybody except white men.” Diversity means everybody. Every single form of the human experience. The white male experience needs to be represented, too, because it also is a form of the human experience and is diverse in its own way. Everybody deserves the opportunity to come to the table and talk about how we all bring our best, authentic selves to the work we do and the customers we serve.
How do different generations perceive a concept like DEI?
Johnson: One of the demographics we have not yet spoken about is age. Every generation has a different way of looking at life based on life experience. What generation you fall into does have an impact on how you feel about diversity. Because of historic discrimination practices, you cannot talk about life experience without talking about history. Different individuals have experienced the past at different levels of engagement and different levels of privilege.
College graduates entering the workforce today were in high school when the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in 2015.
If we’re looking at things through the lens of civil rights, millennials were children in 1992 when apartheid was finally ended in South Africa. For them, it’s been the normal state of the world for there to be no prominent nation whose government formally segregates Black people and white people.
Many Gen-Xers came of age around the time that the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed by Congress in 1990, and it was the nation’s first civil rights law that included people with both physical and mental disabilities.
Many baby boomers were of childbearing age when the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Roe vs. Wade decision was handed down, ruling that the Constitution protects a woman’s liberty to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction or the threat of harm to her well-being. Women exercising a legal right over their own bodies had never happened before 1973.
And our employees who are part of the Silent Generation may have been children when the court’s historic Brown v. Board of Education ruling was handed down, banning racial segregation in public schools. For them, it’s normal that Black and white children should share the same classroom and learn the same lessons — even though that had not happened before that 1955 decision. So if you’re a new college graduate joining us at PSEG, you might look at the murder of George Floyd and say, “We live in a country where a Black man was president. Why are so many police encounters still fatal for Black people? Have we learned nothing?” Meanwhile, a member of the Silent Generation might say, “I can’t believe that, in my lifetime, this country has gone from barely tolerating integrated classrooms to holding a police officer accountable for murdering a Black man.” Each statement is a valid reaction based on a person’s life experience.
At PSEG, DEI means valuing our employees’ generational diversity. We strive to respect and honor our older voices while providing equity to some of the younger voices, who may not be our leaders today, but whose perspectives are crucial as we evolve into the company they will lead tomorrow.
Check out our first Q&A with Janeen Johnson to learn more about how DEI are part of our core commitments at PSEG.