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A Q&A with Lee Jourdan, Chief Diversity Officer at Chevron

A blue sign with chevron on it.

Chevron, a global energy corporation involved in the oil, natural gas and geothermal energy industries, is building a different kind of energy source of its own—a diverse talent pipeline.

The 141-year-old company partners with colleges and universities, including historically black schools such as Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Ala. It created the University Partnerships and Association Relations program to support higher education globally with scholarships, grants, funding for faculty positions, department gifts and laboratory upgrades. 

In 2018, Chevron received a 100 percent rating on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index for the 14th consecutive year. The index ranks U.S. companies' commitment to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) workplace equality. That same year, the National Business Inclusion Consortium named Chevron among the top 30 U.S. companies for its diversity and inclusion (D&I) efforts among the LGBT community, women, people of color and people with disabilities.

SHRM Online spoke with Leland T. "Lee" Jourdan—the company's chief diversity officer since 2018—about the company's D&I initiatives. He has been in the energy industry since 1983 and at Chevron for 16 years.                                               
Lee Jourdan, Chevron.jpgHis comments have been edited for brevity and clarity and to include additional information from Chevron.

SHRM Online: The World Institute on Disability recognized your company in 2017 for its long-term leadership around employee disability issues. Please tell us about that.  

Jourdan: We're working on a neurodiversity program in IT to attract folks in the high-performing autism spectrum. We are in the process of defining intern and full-time roles, outlining training requirements and identifying employees who will work with participants. We expect to begin the interview process in the third quarter of 2019.

ENABLED, for people with disabilities, is one of our employee networks. Its members make sure we've got facilities and operations in place and unbiased hiring. Chevron is piloting ENABLED in California in conjunction with PathPoint, an agency that helps people with disabilities strengthen their workplace abilities.

SHRM Online: What are some of Chevron's other D&I employee-network efforts?

Jourdan: About 25,000 of our 45,000 employees are members of our networks for people who have disabilities; are Asian; black; Filipino; Hispanic; Native American; Baby Boomers; members of generations X, Y and Z; veterans; women; and lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

One of our more unique networks is Boola Moort—it means "many people" in the Nyoongar language—dedicated to promoting Aboriginal culture. Australian indigenous people make up about 3 percent of that country's population. Their representation in the workforce is even smaller, and we want to reflect the markets we serve.

Our CEO and board chairman, Michael K. Wirth, started the Chairman's Inclusion Council last year. He and the 12 members of his leadership team and presidents of each employee network meet three times a year.

The leaders of those networks are early- to mid-career employees, and they bring to our leadership's attention issues important in our society and their impact within the walls of Chevron—like the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017. When those things happen, we find employees reach out to these networks and say, "What do we do? What does it mean to our employees here?" We're able to respond.

The Inclusion Council also talks about how we can advance employee networks and our roles in hiring and retention. When we're hiring from under-represented groups, those candidates meet with people from our networks to find out what life for them is like at Chevron.

SHRM Online: Chevron has diversity action plans that are tied to employee compensation. Who are they geared to and does diversity training play a part in the action plans?

Jourdan: Everyone in the company has a diversity action plan. There are objectives that are part of everyone’s annual performance plan, and can impact compensation. The new performance management mechanism being launched in 2020 will call for even more D&I accountability.

The plan can be as specific as "you'll mentor 'x' amount of diverse employees" or "you'll serve on the hiring team that works with certain organizations or universities that we partner with for diversity recruitment." Training can be part of the diversity action plan.

SHRM Online: Chevron has implemented a new program to recruit people seeking to re-enter the workplace. Tell us about that.

Jourdan: Welcome Back is a 10-week initiative for men and women. It began as a pilot program last year, and we are rolling it out in the U.S. in September. It's for people who left the workplace for whatever reason—starting or raising a family, providing care for a family member, entering military service, teaching or returning to school. Participants work with a supervisor and mentor. Successful participants will be offered full-time positions.

We need to open up the pipeline to get women to the senior level. We don't lose a lot of women—they make up about 25 percent of our workforce—but we still need women represented at senior levels. The idea is to strengthen participants' technical expertise. They haven't lost their leadership and planning skills, and we want to take advantage of that.

SHRM Online: This year, Chevron donated $5 million to Catalyst, a women's rights advocacy group, for its Men Advocating Real Change (MARC) program that focuses on tackling unconscious bias and helps men become allies for their female colleagues. How will Catalyst use the donation?

Jourdan: This donation will make it easier for other organizations to advocate for women by continuing Catalyst's research and programming, supporting the rollout of MARC teams to companies around the world and expanding the number of MARC leaders.

The MARC program has 3,000 members in 12 countries, and it's worked so well we wanted to expand it. It addresses things like men's sensitivity in mentoring women and providing guidance and sponsorship. One of the things we talk about in MARC is being comfortable working with women post-#MeToo. We had people from Chevron attend MARC, and we surveyed them before and after as to whether they would speak up if they heard or saw something inappropriate in the workplace. Before training, 45 percent of men said they would speak up; after training, 75 percent said they would.

Demographic Breakdown of Chevron’s U.S. and Global Workforce

As of December 2018, Chevron employed 45,047 full- and part-time employees around the world; among that number, 21,465 were U.S. employees.

​Total U.S. Workforce
​Women in Chevron's U.S. Workforce​
Total ​
​First- and mid-level manager roles
​Executive and senior-manager positions
First- and mid-level managers in U.S. workforce​
​U.S. executives and senior managers
​Women in Chevron’s global workforce
​Mid-level management roles
​Senior-leadership positions
​Executive-leadership positions

Note: The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines “other” as Native American, Pacific Islander, or people of two or more races. 

Source: Chevron 2018 Corporate Responsibility Report Highlights.


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