Diversity & Inclusion

Breaking Bias and Building Bridges: Chevron’s Proactive Approach to DEI

In today’s corporate landscape, the emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is more pronounced than ever. Companies are recognizing the value of a diverse workforce, not just as a moral imperative but also as a business necessity.

Josetta Jones

At the forefront of this movement is Josetta Jones, Chevron’s Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer. With a rich background spanning science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education; law; and corporate leadership, Jones embodies the essence of Chevron’s commitment to fostering an inclusive environment.

An Early Emphasis on Education and STEM

Growing up in Houston, Texas, Jones’s early life was deeply influenced by her parents’ emphasis on the significance of STEM education. “Even way back as a child,” Jones recalls, “my parents always emphasized the importance of STEM education. They suggested that I study engineering when I went to college.” Heeding their advice, she pursued a degree in chemical engineering, laying the foundation for her diverse career path.

Jones’s journey wasn’t without challenges, especially as a woman of color in fields traditionally dominated by men. “I studied chemical engineering and worked for a few years for a chemical company in the Texas area,” she shares. “I was in a manufacturing facility where a lot of men worked—and not very many people of color.” Despite the challenges, Jones valued her time there, forging strong relationships with coworkers and gaining insights into the importance of inclusivity.

Jones’s thirst for knowledge and growth led her to law school, after which she moved to Washington, D.C., to practice law. “I went to law school and then went to D.C.,” she says, highlighting the stark contrast between the private sector and government work. Her experiences in patent law further underscored the underrepresentation of women, particularly women of color. In fact, she shares only about 2% to 3% of the patent bar were women of color.

Throughout her journey, Jones has consistently been a beacon for diversity and inclusion, drawing from her personal experiences to advocate for a more inclusive corporate culture. Her story serves as a testament to the importance of representation and the value of diverse perspectives in any field.

Chevron’s Historical Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion

Chevron’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is deeply rooted in its history. “Even as early as the 1960s, before the Civil Rights Act, we made a public statement about not discriminating,” Jones proudly states.

This early stance set the tone for the company’s future initiatives. By the late ’60s, Chevron embarked on a campaign to actively hire minorities—a move that was both progressive and emblematic of its core values.

“We have a great picture of Black-owned service stations in North Carolina from that era,” Jones reminisces, emphasizing the company’s long-standing dedication to inclusivity. Whether it was the establishment of diversity councils or public declarations against discrimination, Chevron’s actions have consistently displayed its unwavering commitment to fostering a diverse and inclusive environment.

Employee Resource Groups at Chevron

Chevron’s dedication to fostering an inclusive environment is evident in its robust employee resource groups (ERGs). “In the 90s, we started with our lesbian and gay employee resource groups,” Jones recalls. Over time, this initiative expanded, and today, Chevron boasts 11 diverse ERGs, catering to various demographics like race, gender, and career stage.

These ERGs aren’t just social hubs; they’re platforms for leadership development and cultural awareness. “Our employee networks are great. They present an opportunity for leadership development,” Jones emphasizes. Encouraging cross-participation, she adds, “We probably encourage everyone to step out of their own affinity and step into another one to learn something new.”

With global presidents of ERGs hailing from outside the United States, Chevron’s commitment to diversity is truly international, reflecting its global operations and the diverse voices within.

Chevron’s Proactive Approach to Inclusion

Chevron’s approach to inclusion is both proactive and innovative. “We have training, like ‘Breaking Bias,’ helping people understand their unconscious biases,” Jones shares. While such training isn’t mandatory, it’s a valuable resource for employees.

Another unique initiative is the utilization of inclusion counselors during selection processes. These counselors challenge selection teams, ensuring choices aren’t influenced by unconscious biases. “The intent of the inclusion counselor is to test the selection team’s reasons for selecting somebody,” Jones explains. This ensures equal opportunity for all qualified candidates.

The Importance of Diverse Voices

In the vast expanse of the global corporate landscape, the significance of diverse voices can’t be overstated. For a multinational giant like Chevron, this diversity isn’t just a nod to corporate responsibility—it’s a business imperative. “Not every place we operate looks like Pascagoula, Mississippi,” Jones points out, highlighting the vast cultural differences in Chevron’s operational regions.

Jones passionately believes that a team enriched with diverse voices leads to better, more innovative outcomes. “A team that has a diversity of voices and perspectives really resonates well,” she asserts. This isn’t just about ethnic or gender diversity; it’s about the myriad experiences, backgrounds, and viewpoints employees bring to the table.

These varied perspectives are invaluable in navigating the complex challenges of the global energy sector.

Jones emphasizes the importance of listening to both underrepresented groups and voices of the majority. “It’s essential to look out for underrepresented groups. They also need to hear the voices of the majority,” she says. This balanced approach ensures everyone feels heard, valued, and included, driving Chevron’s mission of true inclusivity.

Jones’s journey and Chevron’s long-standing commitment to diversity and inclusion serve as a beacon for other corporations. In a world where diversity is often discussed but not always practiced, Chevron stands out as a testament to the power of inclusive thinking. Through proactive initiatives, ERGs, and a genuine desire to hear diverse voices, the company not only champions inclusivity but also thrives because of it. As businesses look to the future, Chevron’s model offers a blueprint for harnessing the strength that can be found in diversity.

Lin Grensing-Pophal is a Contributing Editor at HR Daily Adivsor.

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