By Mike Rencheck, CEO, AREVA Inc. North America
America has observed and celebrated African-American culture and heritage throughout the month of February since 1976. The origins date back to a week-long celebration in 1926 that encompassed the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas, The celebration reminds us of the importance of continuing to learn from our history, honoring the contribution of those who have guided our country toward greater equality and opportunity. We draw inspiration from their creativity, innovation, and pursuit of better ways of doing and being.
It’s with this spirit that we recognize the contribution of diversity in National Engineer’s Week.
Celebrated the third week in February, it was founded by the National Society of Professional Engineers in 1951 to raise awareness of the contribution of engineers and the opportunities available via engineering career paths. At the intersection of African-American history month and National Engineer’s Week is the opportunity for businesses to recognize and engage the talents and perspectives of diverse communities in building a competitive workforce.
At AREVA, of our current entry level engineers, 41% of our employees are women or minorities, and we’re continuing to build on this solid foundation. From engaging with Historically Black Colleges and Universities like Morgan State University, to partnering with on-campus engineering societies including the National Society of Black Engineers, the Society of Women Engineers, and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers in our recruiting efforts, we are aligning our talent management strategies with our sustainable and diverse workforce objectives.
As a forward-looking energy company, our recognition that by 2016, 39% of the nuclear energy workforce will be eligible for retirement has long fueled outreach to grade schools and colleges to spark interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) career paths. On the local level, last week, AREVA employees at sites across the U.S. celebrated National Engineer’s Week through community and classroom outreach, with an emphasis on bringing greater awareness of engineering and STEM career pathways to schools like Druid Hills Academy near our headquarters in Charlotte, NC, and “The Governor’s STEM Academy” near our “Operational Center of Excellence” for products and services in Lynchburg, VA.
As an Ambassador for the Department of Energy’s Minorities in Energy initiative, I believe it is our responsibility to invest in younger generations, creating opportunity and supporting diversity as a driver of innovation and prosperity for the future, critical to both our companies and communities.