For years, striving toward equity has been part of Southern Company’s focus on building a healthy company and culture. We work diligently to prevent inequity in our company and to ensure a fair and just culture across the entire organization. We are committed to an equitable and inclusive workplace that mirrors the diverse communities we serve. We are proud of our ongoing pledge to foster racial justice and of our place as a role model among companies forging social change.
Recently, we have refocused our efforts toward a more holistic goal of diversity, equity and inclusion, helping to ensure all groups are welcomed, well represented, engaged and fairly treated throughout the organization. Following events in 2020 highlighting racial injustice in our society, we published Moving to Racial Equity, a complete framework which confirms our collective commitment to this topic. In addition, in 2021 we published a Transformation Report updating stakeholders on our progress toward key goals.
Key efforts and commitments include:
Talent: committing to a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace to better serve our customers and communities; increasing and improving outreach, recruitment, hiring and retention of diverse groups at all levels of the workforce; ensuring equity in leadership development programs; and seeking diverse candidate slates for all positions, including management roles.
Culture: promoting an actively anti-racist culture to ensure that all groups, especially historically underrepresented and marginalized groups, are well-represented, included and fairly treated within all levels of the organization, and that everyone feels welcomed, valued and respected.
Community: committing $225 million over five years to advance racial equity and social justice in our communities with a focus on criminal justice, economic empowerment, the advancement of educational equality and energy justice.
Political Engagement: advocating for racial equity through our political engagement, policy positions and ongoing public dialogues.
Suppliers: aiming to increase our minority business enterprise spend to 20% and total diverse spend to 30% by 2025, and committing to developing and doing business with more Black-owned businesses in our industry and communities.
Southern Company must hold itself accountable to the commitments and pledges it has made. To do this, we expect all employees across the Southern Company system to embrace these overarching racial equity pillars, commit to continuous personal education on the topic, engage in open dialogue with teammates and hold each other accountable for our success. We have also established a communication framework that firmly positions our racial equity and social justice efforts central to Our Values. We have engaged PwC to conduct an external audit of this initiative to uncover any high priority systemic issues and evaluate the identified metrics and key performance indicators as proxies for sustaining the desired behaviors and practices consistent with an inclusive company culture. Finally, we have pledged to review Our Values, evaluate additional diagnostics, further define our initiatives and develop an employee feedback loop to supplement the existing equity efforts underway.
It is our sincere hope that these accountability steps will strengthen Southern Company's implementation plans and capabilities around equity.
Southern Company and its subsidiaries have committed to a $40 million, multi-year investment in its service territory’s historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). This investment will support career readiness of students by providing them with scholarships, internships, leadership development, access to technology and innovation. As part of this commitment, Southern Company and Apple Inc. joined educators and community stakeholders in a partnership to launch the Propel Center, a new digital learning hub, business incubator and global innovation headquarter.