“Our support for DEI has always been core to our vision, mission and values. It’s not ‘corporate speak,’ but rather it’s who we are and how we do business.”
Written by Sarah Kinbar | Photos by Mary Helen Nunn
Sponsored by: LG&E and KU | 220 West Main St., Louisville, KY 40202 | (502) 589-1444 | lge-ku.com/diversity
As a subsidiary of PPL Corporation, Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities’ (LG&E and KU) top-line goals for diversity, equity and inclusion are to attract, develop, and retain a high performing, diverse workforce. To do so, the plan is to increase diverse representation in leadership roles, with a focus on women and minorities, foster partnerships that support the growth and vitality of the varied communities and customers it serves; and to develop and sustain relationships with diverse suppliers, vendors and service providers.
Michelle Stigall, who has been with LG&E and KU for over 10 years working in Human Resources, recently took a manager position in the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion department. She has quickly applied her knowledge of strategic implementation to the company’s workplace diversity issues which she is incredibly passionate about.
It also helps that LG&E and KU have long-standing relationships with various community groups and organizations which helps them to achieve their DEI goals. “We advertise our open positions with a wide range of community organizations and niche websites focused on professional development for minorities and women such as the Louisville Urban League, National Society for Black Engineers (NSBE), Society for Women Engineers, etc.”
Most notably, the company’s relationship with Tennessee State University has enabled them to set up a pipeline for hiring minority students into engineer coop positions which often lead to permanent, full-time opportunities.
According to Michelle, attracting, engaging, developing and retaining talent is among LG&E and KU’s primary commitments for DEI. However, it’s the change-making efforts that appeal to her most, like the proliferation of business resource groups at LG&E and KU.
“Groups that facilitate employee engagement have a real impact on the experiences of our employees. Young professionals, veterans… there are groups that create spaces for our diverse workforce to share experiences and encourage engagement across the enterprise,” she says.
As is true with any organization, you can follow the money to see what’s truly prioritized. “We are embedded within the business and have a Supplier Diversity Program and Corporate Responsibility team that focuses on ensuring we encourage diverse spending and community support,” Michelle says.
She adds that LG&E and KU are very intentional about supplier diversity. The policy is to develop significant partnering relationships with diverse businesses and to maximize opportunities for them to participate as suppliers, contractors and subcontractors of goods and services. “We strongly encourage prime suppliers to provide equal opportunities to small business enterprises including minority-, women-, HUBZone, LGBTQ+, veteran-, and service-disabled veteran-owned small business enterprises in the performance of their contracts,” Michelle says.
Outreach isn’t only about spending, of course. There’s nothing like the art of showing up to show that you mean what you say.
“Our employees and leaders regularly participate in educational events at area middle and high schools which frequently spotlight careers in the utility industry or in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) fields. These events often reach students from historically underrepresented backgrounds,” she says.
Michelle says LG&E and KU’s commitment to DEI is a reflection of the company’s leadership who recognize that building a stronger company means being a leader in the DEI space. “Our efforts have allowed us to grow into a better and more effective enterprise,” she says. “Our support for DEI has always been core to our vision, mission and values. It’s not ‘corporate speak,’ but rather it’s who we are and how we do business.”
As for her own sense of purpose, Michelle says LG&E and KU is the place where she can live out her mission: “I’ve always had a passion for diversity. It’s always been important to me to make sure that everyone has [an] equal opportunity and that we all feel included, important, and valued. So it’s good work. It’s good, worthwhile work.”