At 202 years old, Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE) is the nation’s first natural gas utility. We have a long history of safely delivering energy to nearly two million customers across central Maryland. It’s a great legacy and one we’re very proud of.
But being around for more than two centuries also comes with its challenges. It’s so easy to get caught up in doing things a particular way because that’s the way it’s always been done. That’s not BGE.
(See related article: Ethnic and Racial Diversity in the Boardroom: Its Time Has Come.)
When I became the company’s first African-American CEO in 2014, I made a commitment to make BGE a more diverse and inclusive company. The idea was that through diverse and inclusive leadership, hiring practices, business engagement and collaboration, we could take BGE’s impact on the communities we serve to the next level and drive performance to a higher level.
In order for this to work, it was critical that my top leaders mirror what I wanted to accomplish across the company. In the past four years, BGE’s executive leadership team has been transformed into one that is more reflective of our employees and customers than ever before. Among my 17 top executives, we have three African-American men, three Latino men, four women (two of them African-American) and seven Caucasian men.
But diversity is about more than race and gender. These men and women have professional backgrounds in engineering, law, accounting, information technology and communication, making BGE’s leadership team the most professionally diverse in its history.
Our journey toward a more diverse and inclusive company is intentional and sustainable. It includes having diverse slates of candidates and diverse interview panels when we have job openings. Our goal is to always find the best person for the job. A more diverse selection process makes this possible. And an inclusive culture further encourages employees to bring their whole selves to work and operate as one, cohesive team.
We partner with Baltimore City vocational schools to provide internships, curriculum, mentoring and other resources to prepare students for possible employment with BGE. We also engage with small and medium-size minority, women and service-disabled veteran-owned businesses and educate them on how to bid on and win competitive contracts with us.
Our programs have become models that other companies are following.
Diversity in all forms sparks innovation, which is critical to moving businesses forward. It is no coincidence that BGE’s journey toward a more diverse and inclusive company comes at the same time we are experiencing record financial performance and the highest customer satisfaction in company history. At BGE, we are demonstrating that a commitment to diversity and inclusion and a focus on improved company performance are not mutually exclusive. And we’re just getting started.
Calvin G. Butler Jr. is CEO of Baltimore Gas and Electric Company. He is a member of the board of directors and the executive committee of the firm's parent company, Exelon.