Note: This post has multiple updates below, including a response from APS.
On the heels of Reverend Jesse Jackson demanding workforce diversity statistics from Silcon Valley tech companies, there's a push to get the same stats out of Arizona's biggest power company.
In Phoenix, activist Revered Jarrett Maupin is organizing people to join him in demanding Arizona Public Service (APS) release these statistics. He says the lack of a black person on the board of directors for APS' parent company Pinnacle West -- and the board of directors of other major utility companies in the western U.S. -- is troubling.
"When you look at their consumer base, it's a little more than 10 percent of the customers they sell electricity to are African-American, so you would think we would have some representation on their board of directors," Maupin tells New Times. "We're good enough to sell power to, but they haven't found one of us good enough to share power with."
An APS employee who answered the company's media hotline told us this morning that we'd probably get a call back later when we asked if the company planned to release these statistics. We'll update this post if we get a call back. UPDATE: See APS' response at the bottom of this post.
Maupin says the frustrations with APS outside of the board of directors includes rate-hikes and the utility's spending on political campaigns.
"If they have time to get into politics, then they have time to get into diversity," he says.
Maupin's sending formal letters and e-mails to the chairman and CEO of Pinnacle West seeking the workforce diversity statistics, and says he expects to see a "modern level of diversity" in the company, just as Reverend Jackson has called for in Silicon Valley.
"If they don't release the information, we will initiate street protests outside of their building on Van Buren [Street]," Maupin says.
APS won't be alone in this. Maupin says utility companies in other western states, like PacifiCorp and NV Energy, will be next.
UPDATE 4:12 p.m.: APS has issued a response, including the percentage of African-American employees, and additional information. Read the entire statement from APS spokesman Jim McDonald below:
"Our commitment to diversity is evident in the way we do business every day, from our hiring to our supply chain to our community involvement. We are proud to share the numbers that demonstrate our deep commitment to diversity. Our APS workforce is 28% diverse. We sponsor 9 employee-run organizations that help develop the skills of our diverse employees. Approximately 3% of APS employees are African-American, which is approaching the roughly 4% of African-Americans among all Arizonans. We have purchased $200 million in goods and services from diverse business enterprises so far in 2014. Since 1997, more than 200 leaders of diverse business enterprises have attended our innovative Diverse Supplier Training Program. Efforts like this led the Greater Phoenix Black Chamber of Commerce to give APS its 'Corporation of the Year' award in 2012. Our CEO Don Brandt served as chairman of the Greater Phoenix Urban League's 49th annual Whitney M. Young Jr. Awards dinner in 2013, helping the organization raise $270,000. APS was a founding sponsor 20 years ago of the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration in Scottsdale and has supported the annual celebration ever since. We sponsor the State of Black Arizona project, which increases understanding of challenges and opportunities facing the African-American community in our state. These are just a few examples of the many ways APS supports diversity in real ways, every day."
UPDATE September 25, 5:51 a.m.: This response doesn't satisfy Maupin, who says he wants what's known as an EEO-1 form, a government report that includes a breakdown of employees by race, ethnicity, and gender. Here's part of a statement we received from him:
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SHOW ME HOW
Maupin says the call for full diversity statistics disclosure and changing the racial make-up of the board of directors will continue to be followed with direct action at the utility company's Phoenix headquarters if executives do not comply by Wednesday of next week, October 1, 2014. Maupin is demanding that the company release their federal EEO-1 forms/reports which large corporations are required to file with the federal government.
"We are not interested in their spokesman's spin, we are interested in the EEO-1 filings because the numbers don't lie. They back up our frustration with the current levels of employment diversity and with the board of directors, which unfortunately remains a tight and predominately white circle."
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