“Where do we go from here?” “How do we do it better?”
These are the questions posed to a group of PPL leaders and employees during a luncheon addressing the past, the present and the future of cultural diversity and inclusion in our business and communities. The luncheon was hosted by PPL’s African-American Business Resource Group (AABRG) and was held on Feb. 10, 2016, as part of National African-American History Month. It featured a keynote session by Dr. Henry Odi, Vice Provost for Academic Diversity and Adjunct Professor at Lehigh University, about enhancing creativity and innovation through an increasingly diverse society.
“Given where we are now, it is critically important to lay the groundwork for the expectations we have for the future,” Odi said. But to do this, he urged that “we must understand how the past paved the way.” Odi’s talk led the group down a historic path of leaders and events that juxtaposed past successes against the inequalities of present. He highlighted the achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Civil Rights Act of 1965, the accomplishments of the great Olympian Jesse Owens, and the global impact of anti-apartheid activist Leon Sullivan, in stark contrast to current voting inequalities, the Black Lives Matter movement and police brutality.
“This is a relevant topic, and diversity continues to be a work in progress,” said Christine Martin, AABRG executive sponsor and PPL Public Affairs vice president. “We are working here to increase tolerance, embrace our differences and use them to thrive.” At the heart of PPL’s values is diversity, a commitment to cultivating a culturally-rich community and workplace that fosters inclusion and understanding to achieve the highest creativity and innovation.
“Diversity at PPL is learning from the actions and contributions of our past leaders and applying it to make a difference today,” said PPL chairman, president and CEO Bill Spence. “It’s also about leading. Not just about seeking the title of leader, but earning it and living it with pride and passion. Another part is being fearless in your pursuits.”
The mission of AABRG is to foster an environment of inclusion and create a strong economic base in the African-American community by actively promoting diversity within the company and the regions we serve. Their goal for the presentation was to encourage employees to get involved with the ongoing change around inclusion, appreciation and diversity.
“We want employees to understand that there are personal, cultural and business imperatives on the table; everyone has a part to play in terms of capturing those opportunities,” said Rahmeer Young, President of AABRG and PPL IT business systems analyst.
Held at the Allentown Art Museum in Allentown, Pa., the venue provided a fitting backdrop for this engaging discussion, having just reached an attendance milestone for their photographic exhibition “This Light of Ours.” The exhibition presents the Southern Freedom Movement through the visions and voices of eight activist photographers who lived and worked in the South between 1963 and 1967. The exhibit runs through May 15, 2016.
To learn more about diversity at PPL, visit pplweb.com/life-in-pennsylvania