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Powering progress: Economic empowerment with Douglas Oliver

Exploring the intersection of energy, equity, and inclusion at PECO with Senior Vice President, Douglas Oliver.

Welcome to another insightful edition of “Equity in Focus.” I’m your host, Kevin Hooks. In this episode, we delve into the world of diversity and economic empowerment in the energy sector with Douglas Oliver, the Senior Vice President of governmental regulatory and external affairs at PECO.

Oliver shares his journey from youth in Philadelphia through his academic pursuits to his current role at PECO. He outlines his multifaceted career path, which spans communications, politics, and energy, highlighting how these fields merge at his current position where he focuses on people, business, and politics.

Oliver discusses the foundational role of energy as a basic necessity, especially highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic when homes became hubs for living and working. This scenario underscored the importance of reliable energy access and the Internet, foundational for equitable opportunities in modern society. Oliver emphasizes that equity is ingrained in the utility sector’s responsibilities due to the essential nature of its services. He discusses how PECO’s commitment extends beyond reliability and safety to ensure equitable development of energy infrastructure and diversity within its workforce and contractor base.

PECO’s commitment to supplier diversity

Oliver is proud to reveal that PECO spent $597 million with diverse suppliers in 2023, marking a significant increase over the past five years. He discusses the importance of this spending not just as financial transactions, but as investments in community empowerment and economic growth. Oliver explains the broader impact of PECO’s supplier diversity, which extends beyond immediate financial benefits to fostering business growth, job creation, and community development. This approach not only supports PECO’s operational needs but also contributes to the economic vitality of the communities it serves.

The Empowerment Academy is highlighted as a key initiative in preparing small, diverse businesses to engage with large corporations like PECO. Oliver shares success stories from the academy, demonstrating its effectiveness in equipping businesses with the knowledge and tools to succeed in competitive markets. Discussing the challenges faced in maintaining and expanding diversity initiatives, Oliver stresses the need for continuous commitment and accountability at all levels of the organization. He highlights the necessity of aligning company-wide efforts with strategic diversity goals to ensure sustained progress.

Future directions for equity and inclusion at PECO

Looking ahead, Oliver outlines PECO’s ongoing strategies to enhance their diversity programs, including the community impact equity fund aimed at supporting small businesses through grants and loans. He emphasizes the importance of evolving these initiatives to meet emerging needs and opportunities. In response to the high turnover in DEI roles, Oliver advises that successful DEI initiatives require embedding the principles deeply within the corporate culture, not just through designated positions but as a pervasive ethos across the organization.

Oliver invites listeners to explore more about PECO’s initiatives and how to engage with them through their website or directly through professional contacts. He thanks the audience for their attention and encourages ongoing commitment to equity and inclusion across all sectors.

This episode of “Equity in Focus” not only sheds light on the significant role of energy companies in advancing DEI but also provides a blueprint for how corporations can genuinely integrate these principles into their core operations for sustainable impact.

AI assisted in summarizing this episode of Equity in Focus.

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