Responsive work force and responsible work place – 2010
Click on the indicator numbers below to read more about our performance related to this topic.
|EU 14: Ensuring Availability of a Skilled Workforce
|LA 7: Injury Rate
|LA 10: Employee Training and Continuing Education
|LA 13: Diversity and Equal Opportunity
EWEB relies on the talents and skills of our employees to fulfill our mission to be an outstanding
provider of energy and water products and services to our customers. That is why we are committed to
recruiting, training and retaining a highly qualified, diverse workforce and cultivating a safe and
Upholding our commitment to a responsive workforce and responsible workplace is more important than ever.
The business models and technologies relied upon by EWEB in the past will likely not meet our needs nor
customer expectations in the future. To thrive as a utility in this changing environment, our workforce
must be able to plan ahead, anticipate and adapt to change. More importantly, we need to recruit
those with the relevant skills for our likely future.
Our success in attracting and retaining the skilled workers capable of rising to these challenges is
dependent on our ability to foster a culture of excellence, safety, innovation, teamwork and diversity.
EWEB is an employer committed to equal opportunity and to fostering a supportive work environment that is
open, diverse and embracing of our employees regardless of race, color, religion, sex, national origin,
age, marital or veteran status, sexual orientation, the presence of a medical condition or disability,
or any other legally protected status.
The composition of EWEB's workforce in terms of race became slightly more diverse in 2010 to more
closely reflect the broader community, with non-whites representing 11% of EWEB's 2010 workforce
as compared to non-whites representing 13% in the Eugene community.
However, the composition of EWEB's workforce in terms of gender performs less favorably when
compared to the composition of the broader community. In the regional workforce, women make up 46%
of the working population, yet in 2010 women only comprised 34% of EWEB's workforce. This
discrepancy is particularly clear in job categories historically held by a particular gender,
such as skilled craft workers – historically mainly men – and also administrative support –
historically mainly women.
EWEB recognizes the challenge of recruiting and retaining women and minority applicants and employees,
especially in historically non-minority, male-dominated professions. In order to overcome these
challenges, EWEB proactively seeks to attract a diverse pool of qualified applicants for all
open positions and maintain fair, open and culturally competent hiring practices. In 2010, 37%
of new hires were women and 21% of new hires were non-white.
EWEB continues to be a leader in workplace safety. For the fourth consecutive year, the frequency of
occupational health and safety incidents has decreased. In 2010, EWEB recorded a total of 20 workplace
injuries and no workplace fatalities. This is a 13% reduction in recordable injuries over the
previous year, 26% fewer than the benchmark 3-year average (2006-2008) established as an occupational
health and safety goal, and well below the rate for other public utilities in Oregon. This trend is a
result of an ongoing effort to improve safety awareness and trainings throughout the organization.
In recognition of our outstanding safety performance in 2010, the Northwest Public Power Association
awarded EWEB its top workplace safety award for utilities with more than one million labor hours of
exposure. The award is based upon a review of each utility's safety record, including the number of
recordable injuries and lost workdays.
In 2010, EWEB continues to provide our employees training opportunities to enhance their professional
and technical skills. These trainings are an important part of our strategy to enhance employee and
In addition to the trainings offered at the departmental level, EWEB facilitated 18 internal
professional development and training courses in 2010, providing more than 7,000 hours of employee
development. This translates into an average of 13.4 hours of internal training per employee. In addition,
EWEB provided tuition reimbursements totaling over $44,000 to 25 employees seeking continuing education
through skilled trade organizations, community colleges and universities.
In September 2010, EWEB settled a Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) complaint and lawsuit with a
female line technician apprentice. The claim and lawsuit made allegations of sexual harassment and
discrimination. Prior to the claims being logged, one EWEB employee was terminated and several others
were disciplined in conjunction with some of the allegations. Following the claims, a settlement was
reached by mutual agreement and the EWEB employee complainant was awarded $250,000.
The initial investigation and subsequent claims lead EWEB to understand that there were issues that
needed to be addressed within parts of the organization. EWEB has a strong desire to move forward
and ensure a more respectful workplace environment free from harassment and discrimination.
As part of the settlement with the former employee, EWEB committed to taking specific steps toward this
end, particularly in the skilled trades. EWEB and the Joint Apprentice Training Committee (JATC) (also
named in the complainant's lawsuit) committed to creating a plan that supports diversity and the
mentoring of non-traditional employees in the apprenticeship program. The plan, which will seek to
provide opportunities for the advancement of women and minorities in the trades, will be made in
conjunction with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), Local 659, and will be
shared with BOLI and other JATCs around Oregon.
To help facilitate the change at EWEB, in 2010 all employees were required to participate in a three-hour
respectful work place training. In addition, EWEB's Labor Management Committee (LMC) previewed a
module from IBEW's 8-hour Diversity and Inclusion training to determine its appropriateness for
EWEB-sponsored delivery to segments of its trade workers. EWEB is also developing a Respectful
Workplace plan that describes the steps taken to date and those planned for 2011.
EWEB, like many organizations, is facing a major demographic shift in the workforce as long-term
employees begin to retire. More than one-quarter of EWEB's existing workforce is already eligible
to retire. This transition presents several challenges including the loss of institutional knowledge
and increased competition for skilled workers as other utilities experience the same turnover due to
retiring workers. On the other hand, as employees retire, EWEB has the opportunity to increase the
diversity of the workforce, change the knowledge base of the utility and prepare for the future.
In particular, this calls for an increase in the recruitment and hiring of diverse candidates for
managerial and executive level positions. The data indicates the highest levels of the organization
are less diverse than either the community or the organization as a whole.
Many of EWEB's training programs are administered at the department level. This decentralization has
allowed supervisors flexibility and discretion in the types of training and professional development
programs offered to employees. However, it has proven difficult to track and analyze the efficacy of
these offerings. The use of a new Human Resource Information System to track training and professional
development programs at the department level starting in 2011 presents an opportunity to better
understand where gaps in knowledge, skills and abilities exist.