By Kristin Machacek Leary, Vice President, Human Resources
EDF Renewables North America
One of my core beliefs is that people are at their best when they can bring their whole self to work. At EDF Renewables North America, our approach to diversity, equity and inclusion recognizes this and seeks to engage our workforce in ways that amplify our employees’ strengths.
The importance of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is something that was instilled in me by my parents long before these terms became popular business jargon. These values were reinforced by my experiences in high school and college athletics, where I saw firsthand that the strongest teams are those that are versatile and adaptable.
I’ve also benefited from the guidance of mentors who have showed me how to translate my convictions into meaningful results in the workplace. Seeing DEI authentically practiced at the highest levels has inspired me to make it a priority in every organization in which I’ve been fortunate to serve, whether in the corporate world or volunteering.
I’m always focused on two things: building and supporting a high-performance organization, and creating an environment that makes people feel comfortable being their true selves. The former can’t be achieved without the latter, and the latter can’t be achieved without a proactive approach to acknowledging and celebrating the differences that make each of us unique.
At EDFR, one of our core values is “good sense.” DEI is integral to how we operate in part because it simply makes good business sense – the ability to successfully expand our company depends on our people, because individuals give their discretionary effort when their whole self is engaged.
This means that we are conscientious about DEI issues and work actively to foster awareness of their significance throughout the organization. A key driver of these efforts is our Power in Diversity employee resource group. Founded in 2018, Power in Diversity has grown and evolved over the years, and our members meet on a regular basis to exchange ideas and participate in events.
Power in Diversity provides a solid foundation for the ongoing expansion of DEI at EDFR. A true employee resource group, it has proven very effective for gathering ideas and insights from our employees, allowing us to tap into what’s important and channel that up to leadership and implement new initiatives.
Since joining EDFR in November, I’ve taken on the role of serving as the executive sponsor to help leverage the group’s strengths and amplify its voice at all levels of the company. In addition, my team and I have begun tracking several key metrics, organizing them in dashboards, and communicating the results so we understand the health of DEI at EDFR.
Objective metrics are critical for assessing trends, but it’s vital to pair them with a subjective understanding of how things are playing out on the ground. Listening to our employees is one of my highest priorities, and I am dedicated to regularly convening formal and informal focus groups to gather feedback, particularly from individuals who are directly impacted by specific policies and procedures.
Of course, information only has value if it’s used to inform decision making – it’s important to ask, “So what?!” One outcome of this process is the creation of a new position to lead the employee experience. DEI is a core element of this role, as is close communication with our resource group.
The Human Resources team is tasked with recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce, which requires that we explore non-traditional sources of talent and find novel approaches to core activities like hiring, professional development and mentoring. As a company, we are committed to taking appropriate risks to develop, mentor and grow EDFR’s workforce – which includes letting people explore different avenues professionally.
A key aspect of our internal dialogue on this topic is acknowledging that DEI isn’t about elevating or prioritizing one group over another. It applies to everyone, including groups that have traditionally been recognized as mainstream. By definition, true DEI means leveling the playing field so that all employees have a voice and feel comfortable sharing, asking questions and challenging the way we do things.
I am proud of the concerted efforts EDFR is making to advance DEI within the organization. We are still on our journey, but it is clear that these values have broad support throughout all levels of the company. This is evidenced by the participation of members of our leadership team in various meetings, trainings, and events related to awareness and understanding of DEI issues. When employees see leadership is actively listening and engaged, it’s very powerful and it makes them feel safe.
As we work to build a more diverse, equitable and inclusive organization, I look forward to continuing to work with and learn from internal partners and external thought leaders who can help shape our views of, and our approach to, these critical issues.