Honoring Black History in Pursuit of Justice and Inclusion
The opportunity to positively impact our planet draws many people to careers in clean energy. But for Bryana Williams, Talent Acquisition Specialist at Enel North America, working in the industry means not only tackling a global issue but also supporting something much closer to home.
“I noticed the impact of climate change in my own household, with my dad’s health,” Bryana said. “He was raised in southwest Detroit, and there’s been a long-term effect on his health from living in a community where there was a lot of exposure to carbon emissions, such as sulfur.”
Climate change affects us all, but its impact is not experienced equally. Multiple studies have found that global warming and pollution only worsen systemic inequities in communities of color, leaving them at a higher risk of economic and health risks compared to their white peers.
Through her role at Enel, Bryana is working to fix these inequities. She’s also helping to enrichen an industry that would greatly benefit from more diverse perspectives. In fact, Black Americans represent just 8% of clean energy jobs, compared to their 13% representation in the overall U.S. workforce, according to a 2021 study by E2.
While the battle for greater equity continues year-round, the month of February is especially important. Black History Month is a time to celebrate the achievements and culture of the Black community and reflect on the current experiences of Black Americans and Canadians. In honor of this month, four members of Enel’s Cultural Power ERG share why it’s critical to advance the role of underrepresented communities in the energy transition.
Recognizing a Storied History
Anthony Titus, Purchasing Specialist at Enel North America, sees February as “a time to reflect on the history of my people, from slavery to the first Black president and vice president of the United States.”
In line with this history, this year’s theme is Black Resistance, recognizing a resilience to oppression in the continual struggle for equality.
Alicia McGhee, E&C Contract Manager at Enel North America, noted that the Black community’s fighting spirit is precisely what inspires her to work for change.
“Black History Month reminds me what I’m made of and how I’m empowered to resist a broken status quo and push to benefit others, and for a better human condition,” she said.
Celebrating the range of Black culture is equally important. Bryana underscores that Black identity is not monolithic but richly diverse within itself. She encourages everyone to celebrate all stripes of Black culture and “recognize and implement Black expression and contributions to our society.”
Although Black History Month focuses on the Black community, Adriane Hankerson, Senior Analyst at Enel North America, reminds us, “No matter your race, we are all impacted by Black history, and we are all participants.” That is to say, Black history is woven into the fabric of American and Canadian history, and everyone has an opportunity to reflect on their role in the narrative.
Building an Inclusive Energy Transition
At Enel, we recognize our role in building a diverse clean energy industry through a just approach to decarbonization. By prioritizing those most affected by climate change, we ensure Black, Indigenous and other marginalized communities not only have a seat at the table in the energy transition but are also given meaningful power, as we all work to repair centuries of systemic injustices.
With that in mind, Enel has partnered with organizations like Browning the Green Space, the National Society of Black Engineers and the American Association of Blacks in Energy to invest in Black talent and career development while advancing people currently underrepresented in clean energy.
When asked how else clean energy can build more diversity and trust with the Black community, Alicia called out job fairs, workshops, and additional primary and secondary school engagements as a start.
But diversity within an industry is nothing without support for those leading the way. At Enel, our Cultural Power ERG provides a space for employees who are Black, Indigenous and people of color to come together and build an intentionally diverse, inclusive and antiracist culture.
“The Cultural Power ERG allows you to enter a safe space and share the things impacting you and others — the good and the bad — at work and beyond,” Alicia said. “The common ground established within the (group) is truly an assist to your well-being. You always walk away with something positive and thought provoking.”