Energy company Chevron (NYSE: CVX) is ensuring Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) are a part of their daily operations in Utah and beyond. We spoke with Blair Blackwell, Corporate Affairs Manager, and Kristina Brown, Corporate Affairs Representative, at the company’s Utah refinery to learn more.
Chevron’s presence in Utah is comprised of three entities: its refinery, pipeline, and retail network of gas stations. With over 300 employees, the North Salt Lake refinery has been in Utah for more than 70 years and represents the majority of the company’s presence in the state.
The Corporate Commitment
Diversity and inclusion form a cornerstone of the company’s corporate values, known as the Chevron Way. Blackwell states: “The Chevron Way is more than just a talking point. It’s how we do business. And advancing diversity at all levels of the company is critical. We believe that diversity and inclusion within the organization strengthens our performance and drives innovation.”
Further, Chevron’s approach to DEI allows them to better attract, develop, and retain more diverse talent, Blackwell says.
The Chevron Way is a part of an employee’s experience from their first day with the company and holds everyone accountable in advancing diversity at all levels. Employees have diversity action plans as part of annual performance reviews and diversity and inclusion accountability metrics are tied to compensation for the corporate executive management team. In addition, Chevron has 15 diversity councils across its various business units worldwide. These councils work to help align diversity and inclusion strategy with business strategy.
Chevron’s Utah refinery, while small by company standards, has seven networks currently available to its employees. These networks include affinity groups focused on women, Native Americans, veterans, differently abled employees, LGBTQ, Latinx and XYZ (intergenerational) employees. The networks are open to all employees, as Chevron recognizes the importance of and encourages including allies in the discussion. In 2018, the Refinery created a Diversity & Inclusion Council which is comprised of each network’s leadership. The council meets monthly to find ways to drive employee engagement with the networks.
Crediting its efforts to drive employee engagement, Chevron boasts a high retention rate among its Utah refinery employees. Brown states: “Opportunities for employees to engage with diversity and inclusion efforts and take on leadership roles within the organization are not only opportunities for them to lead, but to have support from their peers. This approach also ensures that there is two-way dialogue around these important topics and that diverse voices have a chance to be heard.”
While the COVID-19 pandemic meant that employee networks weren’t able to undertake volunteer efforts as they have in the past, they did serve as positive support in keeping employees connected. Blackwell notes, “The shift to virtual meetings has also meant that we’ve been able to better connect with and share thoughts with other employee networks across the company. This has been particularly important as we have all grappled with the impacts of what is happening in the United States around racial injustice. The Utah refinery employees have been able to join conversations held by Black Employee Networks at other locations and then we held our own listening and learning sessions within the Refinery. These can often be difficult conversations, but engaging in these challenging topics together is an important step in our continued inclusion journey both individually and as a company.”
Building the Talent Pipeline
Chevron’s talent pipeline for engineers is most commonly developed through internship programs. Many of the company’s new employees are hired out of these programs, during which the company spends a significant amount of time familiarizing employees with each of the employee networks and explaining how DEI fits into the overall mission of the company.
Chevron recognizes that diversity in recruiting, in Utah and elsewhere, has its challenges, and supporting DEI initiatives at universities, community colleges, and technical colleges is a fruitful tactic.
Specifically, the Utah refinery partners with the University of Utah by providing funding to a number of key engineering societies on campus including the Society of Women Engineers, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, and the National Society of Black Engineers.
Chevron makes sure that DEI orientation is part of each new employee’s on-boarding process. Blackwell explains: “When someone joins the company, they quickly learn than diversity and inclusion is a core value. It’s modelled by leadership. Training resources exist. They’re given guidance on developing their personal diversity action plans. And we are all held accountable to furthering diversity and inclusion as part of the Chevron Way.”
Furthering diversity and inclusion is also an important component of Chevron’s investments in the community. “At Chevron, we thrive when the community thrives,” Blackwell said. “And if we want to talk about a strong community and diverse pool of talent, we have to support diversity, equity and inclusion practices through partnerships outside the refinery gates.”
Chevron invests in talent and educational programs, and also supports DEI efforts at the local level. One of many examples is the work they are doing to promote diversity and inclusion in grades K-12. Just this year, Chevron made funding available to teachers in areas of their operations across the United States who want to address race and equity in their classrooms.
Here in Utah, the Chevron refinery has partnered with the Nature Conservatory and Tracy Aviary to provide STEM and environmental education opportunities to students who may not otherwise have the chance. They have also started to work with the Natural History Museum of Utah to support their efforts to bolster DEI themes in programming, and by connecting the museum with experts who can support museum staff development in the space. Finally, Chevron partners with the Governor’s Office of Energy Development on an energy workforce scholarship which is available for Utah high school seniors or first-year college students going to a technical college or state school to pursue a career in STEM.
Advice to Other Employers
Blackwell and Brown had the following advice for companies looking to step up their diversity and inclusion efforts. “The success of your diversity and inclusion efforts will come from connecting both with your employees and with experts and other companies focused in this space. Ask about challenges, practice intentional listening and then take thoughtful and concerted action,” Blackwell says. “We acknowledge that diversity and inclusion must be an on-going conversation, that we all have more we can learn, and that collaboration with others doing similar work will benefit everyone.”
As for manufacturing companies looking to advance their own DEI efforts, Brown notes: “There needs to be an understanding of why diversity and inclusion are important and that there is a business case for emphasizing DEI. By enabling employees to be their authentic selves and contribute at their fullest, you’re supporting a work environment where better innovation, collaboration, and decision-making can take place. Those are the characteristics of a stronger organization.”
The Utah Pitch
“One of the many exciting things in Utah right now is the collaborative and can-do attitude, and the recognition that we can have constructive conversations around diversity and inclusion,” Blackwell stated. “The fact that the state recognizes there is a challenge and is taking steps to address it demonstrates how committed Utah is.”
“One thing I don’t think many people outside of the state realize is the degree to which Utahns have an understanding and appreciation of multiculturism. They understand its value and welcome it, and that is pretty unique,” Blackwell added. “This just goes to show that there are opportunities for companies looking at the state who are concerned about diversity and inclusion. Any employees they relocate to the state will be welcomed with open arms and find a tremendous community here.”
For more information, visit https://www.chevron.com/about/the-chevron-way