How NRG strives to create a safe space for everyone
Submitted by NRG Energy
Safety is embedded in our culture
Here at NRG, five key power values drive our company forward, including Safety and Well-Being. As a consumer services company with roots in power generation, safety is paramount. Whether we’re in plants, offices, or remote workplaces, this value extends to psychological well-being too.
“Everybody talks about safety as being physically safe but psychologically, you’re allowed to feel how you want to feel and express yourself and your opinions. You know you can bring your whole self to your work and workplace situations.,” said Tara McKee, Associate Account Executive.
McKee is part of the LGBTQIA+ Business Resource Group (BRG), One Space.
Diverse perspectives on a unified topic
Psychological safety is not easy to define, but it’s important to foster. As NRG strives to create the best environment for everyone, we had the opportunity to sit down with members of two BRGs, BELIEVE (Black Employees Leading in Inclusion, Excellence, Vision, and Education) and One Space to hear their thoughts on what psychological safety means to them.
Creating a safe workplace for all
BRGs hold a space for people to have conversations and for individuals to be seen and heard. In addition to these affinity groups, NRG hosts events and offers emotional intelligence and unconscious bias trainings to strengthen psychological safety across the organization.
“It's important for people to not have to hide who they are in order to be the most productive person at work,” said Eric Blackwell, Senior Manager, Government Affairs and co-president of One Space.
When employees can truly speak their minds in a productive way, it creates and unlocks value because you can look at a problem that you're trying to solve from a different perspective.
Senior Risk Analyst, Bridgette Jackson says being a part of BELIEVE has been transformational.
“I’ve been working for 25 years in different environments and the addition of BELIEVE has really enhanced my work life. I applaud the company for valuing diversity and BRGs because you're making a space for people to gather, to share their thoughts and their feelings, and to connect with others over shared experiences. And in turn, they feel valued and become a more productive employee.”
The impact BRGs make
BRGs not only enhance the employee experience, they also drive business impact. Many employees have felt comfortable stepping forward and proposing new ideas for projects.
The NRG HBCU Academic Excellence Scholarship Program
BELIEVE members started an initiative to create a scholarship program for students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). In July, 10 students received scholarships to pursue their studies in STEM, Marketing, Communication, Business, Finance, Accounting, or Law at Texas A&M or Prairie View A&M University.
“Our inaugural scholarship event was very successful. We met some of the recipients in person and they were very appreciative of NRG helping to secure their future. It was a proud moment,” Janice Mayers, Vendor Manager and BELIEVE member said.
LGBTQIA+ employee benefits
A series of One Space discussions led to a larger effort surrounding employee benefits. One Space members not only shared current inclusive benefits for LGBTQIA+ employees but also ideas for how to evolve policies to best suit changing needs.
“One Space hosted a presentation to talk about adoption and other things that impact the lives of the LGBTQIA+ community. There are adoption support services that the company provides that I don’t think people know about,” Blackwell explained
Members of BRGs like BELIEVE and One Space shared that through hosting speakers and special events, they strive to promote education and empowerment for everyone.
“We hope the discussions that we have are trickling outside of our group into different teams and communities that we’re a part of,” Jackson said.
In the wake of the tragic events in Buffalo, NY and Uvalde, TX, BELIEVE hosted a listening forum to acknowledge and remember the lives senselessly taken. DE&I expert, Dr. Tana M. Session also led a discussion open to anyone who wanted to share their thoughts, feelings, and experiences related to these tragedies, and to those who wanted to learn and listen.
During Pride month, One Space marched in Pride parades in Houston and other cities and hosted an educational event featuring Jason Collins. As the first NBA player and professional athlete in the United States to come out, he shared his story and spoke about the support he received from teammates and the NBA.
“There are lessons from that like, ‘How can I be a better colleague to someone in the community?’ There are ways to help individuals, whether you’re part of the community or an ally. I think these shared experiences are creating a safe space and we will continue to do that through insightful conversations,” Blackwell said.
An ongoing pursuit
Pursuing psychological safety is an ongoing endeavor for Jennifer Brunelle, Vice President of Talent Acquisition and Diversity and her team.
“I think every opportunity, every event, allows us to grow, to get one step closer to what that ‘psychological safety’ means for us. At the end of the day, what an employee is going to remember is ‘Wow, somebody was there for me. Somebody heard me,’” Brunelle said.
Psychological safety will be the theme of our second annual Day of Understanding. This event is part of the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion and aims to build a culture of understanding. By creating a safe atmosphere for honest conversations, we strengthen trust and instill empathy among our colleagues.
At NRG, we’re bringing the power of energy to people and organizations by putting customers at the center of everything we do. We generate electricity and provide energy solutions and natural gas to millions of customers through our diverse portfolio of retail brands. A Fortune 500 company, operating in the United States and Canada, NRG delivers innovative solutions while advocating for competitive energy markets and customer choice, working towards a sustainable energy future.
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