by Southern Company
From schools to church buildings, offices to operating rooms, the energy grid connects—and impacts—communities of all socioeconomic, cultural, and racial backgrounds.
Yet, communities of color have often been left behind when it comes to ensuring clean energy options and solutions to our most pressing climate challenges. Those that have been historically under-resourced must have a seat at the table as we execute on our clean energy future, and this means empowering young talent to join the ranks of those who are innovating toward that future.
This was precisely the topic of the recent BLACK ENTERPRISE conversation, Investing in Tomorrow, Today, moderated by Editor-in-Chief Derek Dingle and featuring conversations with U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia; Georgia Power’s Chairman, President, and CEO Chris Womack; Congresswoman Terri Sewell of Alabama and the Bipartisan HBCU Caucus; Dr. David A. Thomas, President of Morehouse College; and Anthony Oni, Managing Partner of Elevate Future Fund and Chair of the Propel Center.
The program highlighted the Propel Center, a global innovation hub for HBCU students focused on fostering innovation, expanding access to resources and funding, and providing ample opportunities for students to lead. The center’s co-design curriculum allows Fortune 100 companies leading the charge on innovation in areas such as artificial intelligence and the clean energy transition to collaborate with the Propel Center to create a unique curriculum for the students.
By providing economic pathways and access to resources and funding for students’ innovative ideas and offering leadership opportunities to complement opportunities provided by the colleges, the Propel Center can transform our nation’s talent pipeline and workforce.
Sen. Warnock provided opening remarks, acknowledging the role that representation plays across each sector, including within the energy industry. He emphasized the importance of programs that support innovative Black leadership to close the wealth gap in America.
“BLACK ENTERPRISE has long been a beacon for Black business and entrepreneurship and has inspired countless people into tech, financial, and energy sectors. And as a Senator for Georgia, I commend Georgia Power’s deep commitment to prioritizing diversity in the talent pool and keeping the talent pipeline strong.”
Following Warnock’s remarks, Dingle spoke with Chris Womack, President, Chairman, and CEO of Georgia Power, one of the largest energy providers in the country. The discussion centered on how the energy sector embraces innovation and encourages Black entrepreneurial advancement to increase representation within the industry. “At Georgia Power and all across Southern Company, diversity, equity, and inclusion are key focus areas for our company,” said Womack.
“We’ve done a lot of work putting together a real, structured framework that makes sure that we’re doing a lot of listening and engagement with our employees, and with our communities, [which] puts us on a path to make sure we’re making the right kind of decisions for the long haul,” as Womack presented the business case for investing in diversity and inclusion.
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