The September Chapter meeting hosted at PSEG was an interactive discussion about the development and positioning of Employee Business Resource Groups (EBRGs). The session began with Jamar Tyndale discussing one of PSEG’s oldest EBRGs, the American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE). The inspiration for creating this group came from the Tuskegee Airman, Howard Bragg in 1997. According to Barb Short, Chief Diversity Officer, EBRGs are part of the ecosystem at PSEG supporting employee fulfillment, which strengthens their connection to the company. EBRGs help create a culture of purpose, trust and build citizenship.
The AABE group has three focus areas: community, corporation, and people.
- Community: Volunteers support local initiatives, for example, after PSEG opened a switching station in the West Ward of Newark AABE volunteers helped clean-up after the annual local fair. It is anticipated that the decorative art wall of the station will make it a community gathering site. AABE’s involvement in local activities shows good will, and makes residents see that PSEG employees care about the neighborhood which humanizes the company.
- Corporation: Employee Business Resource Groups provide listening posts, innovative ideas and support for public policy. Each EBRG should have a niche, and AABE’s is advocacy and public affairs. AABE members contacted legislators to vote in favor of a bill to provide a zero emission credit for nuclear energy. The lower costs of fracking threatened PSEG’s nuclear fleet. These actions were beneficial to the environment and saved thousands of jobs.
- People: Members gain exposure, as well as leadership opportunities outside their day jobs.
Some topics discussed during the session included: how to manage funding, when to create additional groups, approaches to increase participation, strategies for involving working at multiple locations, global companies, finding sponsors and creating alignment with business needs. Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) shared an example of supporting the business; their African American BRG partnered with the to deliver opioid awareness to a number of local Newark schools. BCBS uses sponsors to provide alignment. PSEG echoes the importance of providing BRGs with a platform to contribute to the corporation. Alignment with sponsors is instrumental in building support for the EBRG and grooming future leaders.
Jamar discussed the need to balance EBRG activities with work. His role in Government Affairs supports AABE’s activities. He recommended:
- Optimizing the quality and quantity of activities
- Having a diverse board
- Remembering to put your day job first
Building successful EBRGs is a journey, which is unique for each organization.
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