Highlighting the role of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the present and future of Southern Company. Providing opportunities for meaningful, enjoyable interactions between Southern Company employees who are HBCU graduates. Enhancing recruitment and retention of talented employees. Demonstrating the company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.
Meeting these objectives is the purpose of the Southern Company HBCU Alumni Network. The network is holding quarterly events to bring together employees with HBCU connections, as well as company leaders, to socialize and build relationships that strengthen the company’s ties to the HBCU community. The first event was held in February at Atlanta’s College Football Hall of Fame and the latest on May 25 at the Negro Southern League Museum in Birmingham.
“It’s important to have networking opportunities for our HBCU graduates to share their experiences, not only at their respective universities, but also here at Southern Company,” said Jonathan Porter, senior vice president of Customer Operations for Alabama Power, a member of the HBCU Alumni Network advisory board and a graduate of Tuskegee University. “It’s an opportunity to learn how we can better advance the company’s goals and objectives.”
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Southern Company HBCU Alumni Network gathers at Alabama’s Negro Southern League Museum from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.
Attendees mingled among the artifacts on display at the museum honoring the Negro Southern League, which existed from 1920 until 1951, four years after the integration of Major League Baseball. The museum’s purpose, along with its location amid Birmingham’s flourishing Parkside district, contributed to a reflective mood among those in attendance.
“It’s important for our company’s HBCU graduates to connect,” said LaClaire Douglass, a supervisor at Alabama Power’s Transmission Control Center and a graduate of Howard University. “These events show that HBCUs are highly valued by Southern Company and that the company understands how our backgrounds and perspectives can play a valuable role when it comes to serving our customers.”
Wednesday’s gathering took place just as Birmingham was preparing to host the HBCU SpringComing, an event that moves around the country and draws HBCU alumni from coast to coast to enjoy fun and fellowship through multiple planned activities. The three-day SpringComing concludes Sunday.
ChiQuita George, workplace solutions manager for Facilities Business Services at Georgia Power and a graduate of Tuskegee, said the alumni network provides HBCU graduates with a sense of “commonality and connection.” HBCU students seeing Southern Company employees “who look like them” resonates in recruitment efforts, George said.
“That helps us move the needle with prospective talent,” George said. “These events are part of a commitment to diversity and inclusion that strengthens relationships among current employees while helping us build our future workforce.”
That sentiment was echoed by Alabama Power CEO Mark Crosswhite. Noting that his mother obtained her doctorate in education from Alabama A&M University, Crosswhite said HBCUs have long been devoted to changing people’s lives and equipping them to help communities prosper.
“Our HBCUs in Alabama and across the Southern Company system are integral to developing the workforce we need and serving our customers,” Crosswhite said. “HBCU graduates are a major reason our company continues to prosper. That’s why we’re committed to continuing to dedicate monetary resources and human capital to supporting them.”