Inside HR: Update on Building a Diverse Workforce

Inside HR: Update on Building a Diverse Workforce

August 31, 2021

Despite ongoing obstacles of the COVID-19 pandemic over the past year, our Human Resources (HR) Department continued its focus on building a diverse workforce through creative outreach efforts. 

A few years ago, management recognized that a large and growing portion of our workforce was eligible to retire and that the applicant pools GUC was getting for open positions lacked the diversity that we sought. With these two challenges in mind, the General Manager’s Office and HR engaged with the Office of Equity and Diversity at East Carolina University (ECU) in 2015 to help us ensure we had a solid diversity recruitment plan. 

GUC has been implementing this recruitment plan ever since, and one idea was to present an annual diversity report to the Board, which was most recently done in August. This report includes successes, challenges, and the efforts we’re taking to ensure we have a diverse applicant pool as openings become available. 

2021 Diversity Report 
For the purposes of the annual diversity report presented to our Board of Commissioners each year, HR focuses on race and gender. Here are the highlights from their report to the Board in August.  

GUC’s main areas of focus for 2020-2021 fiscal year were: 

  • Building diverse pipelines to attract under-represented talent
  • Enhancing diversity awareness 
  • Assessing diversity recruitment efforts 

Build Diverse Pipelines 
HR has continued expanding GUC’s partnerships with schools and colleges on career and STEM events as well as virtual tours. During the past fiscal year, COVID limited outreach efforts, however GUC still participated in six virtual career fairs, hosted local teachers on site for the Teacher Executive Institute, joined the TradesFormers program in partnership with local trades companies, high schools, and Pitt Community College, and participated in Wintergreen Primary’s and Wintergreen Intermediate’s Career Weeks.  

Due to in-person facility tours being put on hold during the pandemic, HR partnered with our Public Information Office to create virtual tours of our Water Treatment Plant, Wastewater Treatment Plant, LNG Plant, and Electric Point of Delivery Substation. These video tours were shared with local teachers as part of their classroom curriculums. You can view these videos below.

HR continued its successful partnerships with Pitt Community College (PCC) and Pitt County Schools (PCS) by participating in programs such as TradesFormers and by offering Pre-apprentice and Apprentice positions for students in high school and college respectively. They also participated in virtual mock interviews with East Carolina University’s College of Business. 

Other HR outreach partnerships include: the Greenville-Pitt County Chamber of Commerce Grow Local program, PCS and PCC Business Advisory Councils, Innovation Early College High School’s Advisory Council, and STEM East Connect. 

HR continues to sponsor diversity ads and events, announce vacancies with groups for women and racial minority groups, and utilize, a website that connects employers with the career centers of historically black colleges and universities. In addition, HR received an award this year for the iGrow program! Read all about that on page 6 or at!  

Enhance Diversity Awareness 
A few years ago, all GUC employees participated in “Appreciating Workplace Differences” workshops, and since then, all new hires also receive this training when they attend New Employee Training (NET). In addition, GUC continues to require implicit (or unconscious) bias training for hiring panels and includes diversity and inclusion questions in the interview question bank. HR also continues to include “Generational Differences and Diversity” training as part of the curriculum for our internal leadership program, iLead.  

Assess Recruitment Efforts 
HR does an annual analysis to evaluate the demographics of GUC’s workforce in order to measure the success of our efforts. And, with GUC’s applicant tracking system, Taleo, HR is also able to evaluate the demographics of applicants by position, requisition, department, and recruiting sources. One example they shared with the Board is that out of 21 new hires this past year, 33% were either female or minority.   

“I’m proud of our HR staff for consistently exploring new avenues to bring in diverse talent,” said HR Director Richie Shreves. “I’m also proud of our employees for taking time to assist with outreach and making each event fun and memorable for participants, whether it’s in person or virtual. Our HR staff could not do all of this without employee volunteers. We are regrouping with our community partners on events we had to put on hold due to the pandemic. We also have plans to continue expanding outreach programs, with several new events in the works.”