Eversource: Engaging Staff to Define Equity
In the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd in 2020, many corporations, and Eversource was part of this discussion, began to talk about ways to effectively counter systemic bias and racism. Eversource is proud to be a part of this movement. Understanding the unique opportunity to place equity at the center of its work, Eversource’s CEO, Joseph Nolan, created a new position to operationalize equity across the organization. Theresa Hopkins-Staten was appointed Eversource’s first Vice President of Corporate Citizenship and Equity.
As the VP of Corporate Citizenship and Equity, Hopkins-Staten first formed the Pro-Equity Advisory Team (PEAT) — a diverse, multigenerational team of 15 employees from 12 Eversource business units. Hopkins-Staten challenged each member of the PEAT to go beyond personal experiences and individual biases to question the very foundation that guides and shapes their thinking and how they operate, knowing this process builds trust and respect. To foster this trust, she provided each team member the opportunity at the start of each meeting to share their reasoning for joining the PEAT along with an experience they’ve had that would help them in the work before them. Hopkins-Staten also focused on ensuring everyone was included and participating and no one’s thoughts or experiences were disregarded. Instead, members were counseled in and shown how they could help to break down the systematic barriers to providing equity. Team members began to learn more about each other, which built a strong foundation of trust that allowed them to challenge each other and have constructive debates.
The team’s first task was to define equity at Eversource. PEAT members shared words that came to mind when they heard the word ‘equity’ and developed definitions based on their own personal interpretations. Members also debated and further defined certain terminology as it would relate to equity, such as the word ‘stakeholders’. After each individual definition was combined into a single definition, it was further analyzed and scrutinized until each word was chosen intentionally and agreed upon. Once the PEAT members came to a consensus on the definition, they shared it with employees from their business units who provided valuable feedback. After four weeks of intensive thought, deliberation and feedback, the team agreed upon the definition, which was then presented to Eversource’s senior executive team and approved.
Eversource equity definition: Equity means engaging all stakeholders – including our customers and communities with respect and dignity while working toward fair and just outcomes, especially for those burdened with economic challenges, racial inequity, negative environmental impacts and justice disparities.
Following the adoption of the equity definition, the PEAT went through the same process to create Eversource’s equity statement:
At Eversource, as we evolve our pursuit of equity, we are committed to:
- Recognizing and understanding historical inequities and ongoing disparities particularly for those communities that are predominantly Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), environmentally burdened, and economically challenged
- Intentionally rectifying inequities using the Equity Guidelines to govern our work in and through the various ways we engage with our stakeholders
- Using the Equity Guidelines to ensure our stakeholders feel respected and that our work is conducted to support their dignity and fairness
- Improving our operational and corporate processes, systems and practices to better understand and serve the needs and unique circumstances of our customers
- Together, we will work through systemic biases and challenges. We will hold each other accountable and celebrate the positive accomplishments and changes achieved through courageous conversations and inclusive policies.