“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made that statement over 70 years ago.
It is a powerful reminder that for men and women to live in society together, we all share a duty not to tolerate violence, hatred, prejudice, and discrimination no matter how they reveal themselves.
In 2020, our nation has been reminded that none of us is truly free and able to profit from the promise of equal justice until all of us are free. The tragic deaths of unarmed African Americans — including George Floyd, Tamir Rice, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, among many others — have caused all of us to question what more we must do to make the promise of America real for everyone. In addition, these events have shined a light on the systemic racism and inequalities that still persist and threaten to unravel our American experiment.
Our company recognizes that our obligations as a corporate citizen extend beyond the bounds of simply engaging in prudent commerce. Our charge as a good corporate citizen is not just to avoid evil, but to do good and to improve our communities at every opportunity.
At Dominion Energy, we know that companies cannot be mere mechanisms of the market; they must have a broader purpose. And while the nationwide awakening that has taken place over the past few months is about something far greater than us, we know we cannot stand idly by as it unfolds. Our company’s core values call us to participate in solutions. To make things better.
We have always tried to do so, particularly when it comes to questions of equity.
- We have a formal Environmental Justice policy that calls for fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income in siting and construction of our infrastructure projects.
- 31 percent of our Board of Directors and 71 percent of the CEO’s direct reports are diverse, and 29 percent of his direct reports are African American.
- We have contributed over $48 million in 2019 and volunteered 131,000 hours.
- We have an aggressive diversity recruitment strategy, through which we are steadily increasing the percentage of new hires who are diverse — with a goal of 50-plus percent of all new hires being women or underrepresented minorities from our service territories.
For us, fairness is not a talking point, it is a non-negotiable. We put it into action. To cite just one example: Our Strategic Underground Program improves reliability by placing the most outage-prone power lines underground. Because we recognize that a lack of power can fall especially hard on the most vulnerable, the program has so far undergrounded a larger proportion of eligible mileage in lower-income areas compared to more affluent communities.
Likewise, we have undertaken the cause of expanding broadband into rural communities to help solve the problem of the digital divide that disproportionately limits opportunities for African American and LatinX communities in our digital economy.
We provide a best-in-class energy assistance program, EnergyShare, for our at-risk customers, but we don’t just stop there. In one recent instance we provided financial assistance to a municipal utility so that it could avoid disconnecting its customers who have accrued past-due balances because of the hardship of COVID-19.
You can read more about those and other efforts in the body of this report. For us, such policies are standard operating procedure. Some might call them business as usual.
But the aftermath of George Floyd’s death was not a business-as-usual moment. And we were determined not to treat it that way.
As protests filled the streets, we convened a company-wide virtual town hall, where I was joined by a diverse group of leaders who led a conversation about the national movement emerging in the wake of George Floyd’s death. It was a frank and emotional discussion. Our employees reported that it was educational, moving, and ultimately hopeful. But it is only a beginning.
While hard conversations are vital, they are not enough. So we took action by committing $5 million for contributions to nonprofits focusing on social justice and equality and to help rebuild communities. We recognized Juneteenth as a planned Day of Service focused on social justice and equality, to bring our people together in support of one another and the community. And we committed $35 million to advance higher education equity — $25 million in support of historically black colleges and universities and $10 million in scholarships for African American and other underrepresented minority students. As we look ahead, we are exploring more opportunities for employees to help address the nation’s unfulfilled promise of equal justice.
We are doing these things because we know that at its deepest level, sustainability is about ensuring that people — all people — have the means to flourish.
In order for people and our communities to flourish, we must do all we can to protect the environment, to strengthen our communities, and to champion the right of every citizen to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or identity.
Dominion Energy intends to lead the way.