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Duke Energy Teammates Show Support for Diversity and Inclusion

Indiana group will participate in Indianapolis Pride Parade for the first time

Published 06-13-22

Submitted by Duke Energy

DeAnna Lowe, from left, Cicely Hart, Kristie McKillip, Susan Wilde, Julie Orben and Harley McCorkle are involved in the Indiana chapter of the employee resource group WeR1.
DeAnna Lowe, from left, Cicely Hart, Kristie McKillip, Susan Wilde, Julie Orben and Harley McCorkle are involved in the Indiana chapter of the employee resource group WeR1.

By Page Leggett

Duke Energy teammates are sponsoring and attending Pride Month parades and festivals, but it is far from the only work they do to support the LGBTQ+ community.

Education is a core part of the Duke Energy employee resource groups’ (ERG) mission. The company’s Indiana WeR1 chapter, formed last year, will participate in the Indy Pride Parade for the first time.

The group has already sponsored educational sessions such as training in how to be an effective LGBTQ+ ally and is gearing up for more throughout the year. They’re embarking on what chair Julie Orben terms a three-part learning journey that will be open to every employee – virtually – at the company. Orben stresses that you don’t have to attend the previous session to get something out of the upcoming sessions.

At the Indy Pride Parade, the Duke Energy crew won’t be lonely on June 11 when the parade rolls through downtown Indianapolis. The annual event attracts tens of thousands.

In addition, Duke Energy is the presenting sponsor for Youth Pride Carnival on June 8. The event is hosted for youths ages 12 to 20 in coordination with the Indiana Youth Council and provides a safe space for LGBTQ+ young people to enjoy carnival food and games.

Duke Energy’s involvement is being spearheaded by the burgeoning Indiana WeR1 chapter.

“Indy Pride is a family-friendly event with lots of activities, music and food,” said Orben, a senior large account manager in Columbus, Ind., and an ally. “It’s a day for people to come together and celebrate who they are in a safe space.”

Harley McCorkle, vice president, zone operations, is participating in the Indy Pride event.

“Supporting the Pride Parade is a huge benefit to me as it will provide an opportunity to engage and better educate myself in order to inspire others to be cognizant and supportive of our teammates and folks in our communities,” he said. “We are quick to judge but slow to listen to people around us and understand their perspectives. By challenging ourselves to become more educated with LGBTQ+, we will become better people, teammates, leaders, family members, friends and community members.”

Indiana State President Stan Pinegar, another ally, will participate in the parade with his Duke Energy teammates.

"I've always been proud of the way our company has embraced diversity, and there’s no better example than those who organized our involvement in this year’s Indy Pride,” said Pinegar. “Being open to a variety of perspectives helps us generate the best ideas and solutions. It also gives us an advantage when we are attracting talent to our workforce.

”Since Indy Pride 2021 was canceled because of the pandemic, there’s pent-up excitement for this year’s event.

Brad Platt, Diversity and Inclusion senior program manager, commends the Indiana chapter for starting off big.

“This showing is a testament to our LGBTQ+ employees and allies in Indiana,” he said. “They are stepping up and making sure we are visible. It’s so important that all our employees feel like they belong. Our participation also sends a message to our LGBTQ+ customers: We see you, and we are here for you.

Duke Energy is investing in smaller Pride events in Indiana, too.

Later this year, the company will sponsor Spencer Pride on Oct. 15 in Spencer, Ind.

“Spencer has one of the oldest Pride organizations in the whole state,” Orben said. “It’s a small, rural community – but they have one of the state’s strongest organizations in Indiana. Two years ago, their Pride festival attracted more than 8,000 people.

”Orben said she is looking to more people who will be interested to learn and advocate.

“I hope people will attend an event,” Orben said. “Come and listen with an open heart and open mind. Extend grace. There can be a lack of understanding that leads to discomfort. We want to increase everyone’s comfort level and share the right information in a safe environment.”

Orben said another employee messaged her recently to say their child had recently come out. The work WeR1 is doing helped this employee deal with and accept the news. They told Orben: “You’re making a difference.”

handful of rainbow pride flags
Duke Energy employees formed We Are One for LGBTQ+ Equality (WeR1) employee resource groups in Charlotte, Cincinnati, Florida, Indiana, Raleigh.

Duke Energy supports Pride events

Duke Energy WeR1 chapters are sponsoring and participating in:

  • Northern Kentucky Pride, June 5.
  • Cincinnati Pride, June 25.
  • St. Pete Pride, June 25.
  • Out! Raleigh Pride, June 25.
  • Charlotte Pride, Aug. 20.
  • Spencer, Ind., Pride, Oct. 15.

Diversity at Duke Energy

Duke Energy teammates have formed We Are One for LGBTQ+ Equality employee resource groups in Charlotte, Cincinnati, Florida, Indiana and Raleigh. Click here to learn more about diversity and inclusion at Duke Energy. Each chapter sponsors and hosts events for Pride and throughout the year.

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Duke Energy

Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), a Fortune 150 company headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., is one of the largest energy holding companies in the U.S. It employs 30,000 people and has an electric generating capacity of 51,000 megawatts through its regulated utilities and 3,000 megawatts through its nonregulated Duke Energy Renewables unit.

Duke Energy is transforming its customers’ experience, modernizing the energy grid, generating cleaner energy and expanding natural gas infrastructure to create a smarter energy future for the people and communities it serves. The Electric Utilities and Infrastructure unit’s regulated utilities serve approximately 7.7 million retail electric customers in six states – North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky. The Gas Utilities and Infrastructure unit distributes natural gas to more than 1.6 million customers in five states – North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky. The Duke Energy Renewables unit operates wind and solar generation facilities across the U.S., as well as energy storage and microgrid projects.

Duke Energy was named to Fortune’s 2019 “World’s Most Admired Companies” list and Forbes’ 2019 “America’s Best Employers” list. More information about the company is available at duke-energy.com. The Duke Energy News Center contains news releases, fact sheets, photos, videos and other materials. Duke Energy’s illumination features stories about people, innovations, community topics and environmental issues. 

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