Corporate Spotlight – Exelon

By: Angela France, PCT Law Group, PLLC, Alexandria, Virginia

Powered by its people and culture, Exelon is one of the most successful companies in the energy industry. It has been the top-ranked electric and gas utility on the Fortune 500 each year since 2008. One key to Exelon’s ability to drive progress are its values of diversity and inclusion.

Exelon views its commitment to diversity and inclusion as essential to its future success. The company views diversity and inclusion as a “business imperative, core value and moral obligation.” These values are championed by Exelon’s legal department. “Diversity and inclusion is a strength that enables us to provide solutions for our customers – it makes us better,” explained Tony Gay, Associate General Counsel in Exelon’s legal department. Gay described the practice and promotion of diversity and inclusion within the walls of the legal department, and how it encourages and inspires these values externally.

Internally, the legal department encourages recruitment, retention and development of diverse attorneys. Today, 37 percent of the legal department’s lawyers are female, and 22 percent are people of color. Diversity “broadens our perspective” and challenges the department to “learn, grow, adapt and advance,” Gay said.

As the co-chair for Exelon’s legal diversity and inclusion committee, Gay works on promoting a culture of inclusion through educational, pipeline and social events within the company. The committee sponsors seminars on topics such as work-life balance issues and implicit bias. Our own NAMWOLF leader, Joel Stern, has addressed Exelon attorneys on diversity issues. In addition, the legal department hosts diverse summer law clerks and diverse attorneys to work in the department on secondments. From a social perspective, Gay highlighted the “Diversity & Dine” museum and dinner events and diversity potlucks, which provide an opportunity to learn about diverse backgrounds, experiences and culinary cultures.

These internal diversity practices give credibility to the legal department when dealing with Exelon’s outside law firms, with which the company partners to serve its internal clients. In 2005, Exelon established the Awareness, Action and Assessment (AAA) program, which creates accountability for outside firms to embrace Exelon’s diversity and inclusion goals. Outside firms provide diversity metrics in an end-of-the-year “report card” about the participation of diverse and female attorneys in performing Exelon work. The AAA program has led to significant positive change and is touted by Exelon as an aggressive and successful program.

In addition to tracking its outside firms’ diversity metrics, Exelon’s legal department ensures it includes minority and women-owned firms as Preferred Provider Firms. Of particular importance and value to Exelon is a firm’s specific expertise in a field of law. Moreover, Exelon is one of the founding partners of NAMWOLF’s Inclusion Initiative, which pledged to spend $30 million with minority and women-owned firms in 2010. The corporate partners exceeded their goal, and since 2010, the Inclusion Initiative has flourished. For 2013, the partners together spent more than $250 million with minority and women-owned law firms – far exceeding their $160 million goal for that year.

Exelon focuses on maximizing the potential of energy every day, and the company’s approach to diversity and inclusion enables powerful thinking in furtherance of this mission.

Anthony E. Gay is Associate General Counsel at Exelon and supervises the regulatory legal group for Exelon’s PECO subsidiary. He co-chairs Exelon’s Legal Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Tony is the recipient of NAMWOLF’s 2014 Award for Outstanding Service by an Advisory Council Member for his dedication to NAMWOLF’s mission to encourage major corporations and public entities to utilize minority and women-owned law firms and increase minority and women-owned law firm participation.