Breaking Barrier‪s‬ – Ep.24

Amplifying the Zambian Voice – Ep.23
April 2, 2021
Intentionally Inclusive – Ep.25
April 15, 2021

Rochelle Holoman is a program manager with the Diversity & Inclusion team at Southern California Edison (SCE), one of the nation’s largest electric utilities and a Fortune 250 company. She is responsible for leading the company’s 12 Business Resource Groups (BRGs). Rochelle joins the podcast to discuss why her company uses the term Business Resource Group rather than Employee Resource Group, shares how the BRGs conduct community outreach programs to bring about awareness, and explains how to modify our structural barriers and biases to remedy challenges in the workplace. 

Melyssa Barrett: Welcome to The Jali Podcast, I’m your host, Melyssa Barrett. This podcast is for those who are interested in the conversation around diversity, inclusion, and equity. Each week I’ll be interviewing a guest who has something special to share, or is actively part of building solutions in this space. Let’s get started.

Rochelle Holoman is a Program Manager with the diversity and inclusion team at Southern California Edison, one of the nation’s largest electric utilities, and Fortune 250 company. She’s responsible for leading the company’s 12 Business Resource Groups, or BRGs. These BRGs are voluntary, employee-led groups, that serve as a resource for their members and the company, fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace aligned to company’s mission, values, goals, and business priorities. They also strive to provide maximum benefit to its members, through leadership development, increased employee retention and engagement, and enhanced community involvement. 

Rochelle is a 10 year employee of Southern California Edison. And, preceding her role in diversity and inclusion, she worked in customer programs and services, supporting various energy efficiency programs with an annual operating budget of more than 60 million. She’s also served as the grassroots safety lead. In her spare time, she partners and contributes to several non-profits as an advisor, Board Member, and mentor. Rochelle is a licensed California real estate agent, and her true passions are public speaking, coaching, and mentoring. 

One of the most meaningful parts about working at Southern California Edison Rochelle says was, “Being able to lead and facilitate over 100 discussions around race, equity, and belonging”, for their employees. The leadership team paved the way in 2020 for these rich and robust conversations to take place through their Leading with Courage on Inclusion dialogue sessions. During those sessions, they provided a safe space for employees of all backgrounds to share their professional and personal experiences. And, she found those conversations both encouraging and inspiring. And, as they gave her a chance to connect with various employees in different areas of the organization. Southern California Edison strives to provide an environment of psychological safety and trust, and they have found that the first step is to listen and share respectfully, while adhering to their company values.

I am so excited today to have Rochelle Holoman with me today to talk about diversity, equity, and inclusion. I know you’ve been in the space for a long time, and I am so interested to hear about what you have learned about the space, and what you are doing in the space these days?

Rochelle Holoman: Thank you so much Melyssa, what a pleasure to join today. And, welcome to your audience as well as we dive in. Diversity, equity, and inclusion is at the forefront of all that we do. You can’t turn on the television today without hearing it in some form. And, it’s a great thing, this is so important. I always say to people that when you go back and you look at the 60s, and the momentum, the traction that took place from that movement, we’re right back there again. In an opportunity, a time in history, where we can make great strides in this area. I think it’s so important that we think of it as… We’ve made such great strides in technology, in that man is going to the moon, and we’re sending to mars, and we have a space station that is above us, it circles the Earth 15 times a day. And, we’ve made such advancements in that area, but have we made advancements emotionally? In how we interact with one another? And, I think that as we make great strides in that area, we also need to catch up emotionally. 

So much of it, as I lead at Southern California Edison, we, in 2020, created a program called Leading with Courage on Inclusion. And, we opened it up to our leaders and we said, “Have conversations with your teams. Pull them in.” These sessions were listening sessions. They were all about us gaining knowledge and understanding from a perception that’s different than our own. That’s where true strides are made. A lot of the times we walk around almost with blinders, and through your blinders you only have so much vision. But, when you hear someone else’s story, you have the opportunity to expand how you see things. This is where the growth takes place, is at first just listening to one another. And, these conversations [inaudible] all levels of management, to the point now that we have included, and starting this year we’re having, what we call, mandatory diversity, equity, and inclusion training, for all of our employees. And, this is getting people used to the terms. We’re going to back those up with facilitated conversations, which I’m helping to lead for our company.

And, now we’re going to open the door, and let’s start to talk, let’s really get an understanding. Our teammates have worked together for years, and a lot of them don’t know their stories. What happens after you leave work? What’s reality like? So, these conversations have been great. And, I lead over 100 [inaudible] for our company, just my myself, and that was between June and December. And so, these conversations continue, and they’ve been a great [inaudible].

Melyssa Barrett: Wow. That’s phenomenal. So, I will say, we had some similar conversations at my company, and I think it was not only amazing for management to give the space, but as the space was exposed and people were made vulnerable, they shared information and perspectives that I think nobody had any idea that they were bringing with them to the office. And, I think it really provided for such a better connection of people. And so, when you talk about emotions and just really being able to connect people and not necessarily just focus on technology, it is work that needs to be done. Because, we are actually working on ourselves as we’re listening to others.

Rochelle Holoman: And, it’s shining a light in these areas. We’re focusing on trust, we’re focusing on belonging, we’re focusing on respect. Because, if you operate from those platforms, you make for a better team. People say, “The world is like a melting pot”. I go, “No. Truly, we are a mosaic”. Almost three years ago that [inaudible]. And, when you look at a mosaic, it paints such a beautiful picture. Up close, you see all the individual pieces, they’re cut differently, different shapes, colors. When you step back from it, it paints the most beautiful picture. Why? Each of them are allowed to be individuals, bring who and what they are to that picture, and they shine independently and on their own. So, our conversations were very powerful with that, of giving them a voice. We had adult people, almost every conversation, in tears, going back to their experiences.

And, it went across all genders, all ethnicities. This was not just a black lives, or African Americans, or people of color. This was everyone. These conversations were open to everyone to share their story. 

Melyssa Barrett: Wow. That’s incredible. That is awesome. It’s funny, because we don’t do that a lot at work.

Rochelle Holoman: Right?

Melyssa Barrett: And so, I tend to wonder now what work will be like. Because, everybody is thinking about getting back to normal, but it’s kind of like we’re on a different plane now. We have been exposed to something different, you can’t necessarily go back. 

Rochelle Holoman: That’s right. And so for us, you’re right, these conversations have been taboo at work. I would lead each one of those conversations and say, “We don’t typically talk about this at work”, it’s almost like religion and politics.

Melyssa Barrett: Politics. Exactly.

Rochelle Holoman: You stay clear of that because emotions get involved. But, we leaned into it, we really have. We’ve leaned into the difficult conversation. All areas of growth take place in an uncomfortable space. I’ll prove it to you. Think about when you first learned to drive a car, how uncomfortable was that, when you first learned to drive a car? But now, those of us that have been driving for years, I won’t say how many years, there’s times where you’ll drive and you’ll wind up at home, and you’ll go, “I don’t even remember how I got here”.

Melyssa Barrett: You’re just on autopilot. 

Rochelle Holoman: You’re on autopilot. And, we teach this at my job. We’ve been learning so much about psychological safety, and understanding the brain, and how the brain works, most people don’t know this, but 90%… I’m going to give you that number again, 90% of what we do as human beings comes from our subconscious. 

Melyssa Barrett: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Rochelle Holoman: That’s how you can drive home and not remember the drive. Is because, once you’ve learned it, it is stored in the back of your brain in a file, and it’s pulled out whenever it’s needed. Well, when you say 90%, that means everything that you’ve been taught, everything that you’ve learned. It’s all stored. Now, the hope is that it was stored correctly. Because if not, I tell people all the time, when we talk about racism, inequalities, discrimination, these are all learned behaviors. 

Melyssa Barrett: Yes.

Rochelle Holoman: And, I’ll prove that to you to. Put toddlers of every ethnicity on the floor to play. They will not discriminate against one another based on the color of their skin. It’s a learned and taught behavior. And, because of 90% of what we do comes from our subconscious, you have to reprogram the file, and that’s what these conversations do. They allow you to see it maybe from a perspective differently than what you’ve been taught, what the media has indoctrinated us with, movies, everything. All of that feeds into you. And it determines the person that you are.

Melyssa Barrett: Yeah, that’s incredibly powerful. And I think, as we get into it, and your work is just so interesting, because I think as you come away with these hundreds of sessions that you’re doing, the way we work together becomes completely different. So, as we think about collaboration, project management, all of the things that most of the time you think about at work, how do you think some of those things change when we’re dealing with challenges in the workplace now, based on what you’ve seen?

Rochelle Holoman: It’s important. It’s the foundation. How we, again, have approached this is we talk through things in these sessions. We get right to the meat of things. We talk about things such as, when you’re in a meeting are you ensuring… And this can cross [inaudible]. When we talk about intersectionality, this can cross. But, how are you even starting a meeting? Are you initially leaning into the individual? “How are you today? We’re going to get to the work, how are you today? How are you doing in the mist of all that we’re enduring and encountering?”

Now, when you start meetings that way, boy, aren’t you going to then lean into the subject matter with that individual. You’ve now taken things to another level. That’s one way that we do that. We’re very mindful of giving one another… [inaudible] credit is the right word. But, if you’re in a meeting with various people, and someone throws out an idea, and you come behind it and think, “Wow, you can add to that? Add value to it?” It’s wonderful to acknowledge that person first. Go, “Melyssa, great idea. Now let me chime in”. What have you done for that individual? You’ve acknowledged them in front of the group, that this idea started with them, “Now I’m going to elaborate”. Women experience this quite often in the workplace, that they’re talked over, they’re brilliant ideas are not acknowledged. 

Melyssa Barrett: Yes.

Rochelle Holoman: You’ll be in a meeting and a woman is saying… We’re just talking reality, a woman is saying and doesn’t get much fanfare, and a man can come behind and they’re saying, they’re like, “Yes!”, and the team is, “Let’s do… Brilliant idea!” And, the woman’s going, “That’s exactly what I said”. That shows itself in ageism, with people that maybe have been in the workforce a little longer, and those maybe that are just entering the workforce. That sometimes it’s hard for people to find their voice. That’s one of the things that we’re working on. This is a place of belonging for all of us, all of our voices are important. There are gold nuggets within each of us, and people have to feel allowed to flourish.

Melyssa Barrett: And, since you brought up the word belonging, because there’s all these different words now that people are using, diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging. I just had an interview with somebody and they worked in academia, and they have retention in their title. So, how have these words played a role with the work that you’re doing?

Rochelle Holoman: I think it’s important. This is one of the reasons that we are introducing company-wide training. Because, within those trainings, they’re [inaudible], they’re short 10 minute micro-learnings, but it’s concepts. And then, adding understanding to those concepts. Because, we are hearing them. We’re hearing equity. We’re so used to hearing equality. 

Melyssa Barrett: Right.

Rochelle Holoman: Well, equality doesn’t always work. We use a very good graph, and if we’ve got just a second, I want to paint this picture for you.

Melyssa Barrett: Yeah, please.

Rochelle Holoman: We show a graph in our department, and it’s of a soccer field. And, there’s a team that’s playing soccer, and there are three observers of the game. They’re all standing behind a wooden fence. One person can see over the fence, the person in the middle can’t see, and the last person cannot see based on their height. So, it talks about equality. And, what they show you is that equality gives each one of those people the same size box to stand on, a wooden box. Well, the person that could see initially can still see. The person in the middle, now they can see with that support of the one box. But, the person on the end, one box still doesn’t do it, it does not give them line of sight to the game. That’s equality. Equality says everybody gets the same thing, although it may not meet your need. 

Equity now says, and that’s the next frame in that graph, shows the person on the end, no box, person in the middle one box, person on the end, two boxes now to stand on. Now, all three can see. That’s equity. Equity says, where you need the support, we give the support. 

The last frame of this talks about justice, and we hear that a lot now, of systemic justice, social justice. And, this frame is beautiful. And, what’s happened here, all of the boxes are removed, the wooden fence is completely removed, and a chain link fence is now placed there. Now, no one needs support once the systemic barriers are removed. That’s healthcare, that’s jobs. That’s where we say, “You have to fix the system”. And, once you fix the system, the support is no longer needed.

Melyssa Barrett: I love that example of the chain link fence. Or maybe no fence at all, or something.

Rochelle Holoman: Or no fence at all. Right?

Melyssa Barrett: Right, we don’t need any barriers. 

Rochelle Holoman: I’m sure that’s maybe to protect the players on the field, they will run out on you. But, the whole premise behind that, you see it clearly.

Melyssa Barrett: Yes.

Rochelle Holoman: You see it clearly. That, if you fix the foundation, if you fix these systems, that over the years have prevented groups and people from progressing, being able to take advantage of what we call the American Dream, once you remove that… Now, here’s one more thing I’m going to touch on quickly, and we call that the 10%. The 10% that you see of an individual, and this concept is out there, it’s like an iceberg. When you see an iceberg, you’re only seeing 10% above water, 90% in underneath. I bring this point out every time I’m in a session. That, when you look at an individual, you’re only seeing 10% of them, and that’s from a medical standpoint, and when you talk about skin mass, compared to body mass. You only see 10% of an individual. But, that’s where all of our judgment and biases come from, is that small… Has nothing to do with their head or their heart, has nothing with their ability to learn, their ability to be productive. And so, we have to be mindful of that and shy away from judging individuals immediately by only that small percent of them that you see.

And, as we shift and make those changes, we make for a better society. And, that’s part B of this. This work we’re doing is not just for us. We are planting seeds for trees that we will probably never sit under. But someone will. So, it’s important that we plant the seeds.

Melyssa Barrett: It’s the legacy. 

Rochelle Holoman: It’s the legacy.

Melyssa Barrett: Some of those trees take years and years to grow and blossom, and yet when they do blossom, could be generations from now, they reap the benefits.

Rochelle Holoman: That’s it exactly. So, that’s how powerful this work is that we’re doing.

Melyssa Barrett: Yeah, it’s amazing. And, I know a lot of DNI professionals are focusing on training, but there is also this sense that training can’t be the only thing we do. And so, are there other things in the work that you’re doing, with your company or others, in terms of what you’ve learned are there other… You talk about the structural barriers, how can we do better in terms of modifying those structural barriers? When they were created, obviously, they weren’t necessarily created for everyone. Do you have thoughts on how some of that structural infrastructure can be modified?

Rochelle Holoman: Yes. And, I think so much of it is what you said. It’s first talking about it. We can never solve anything until we first identify what it is. That’s one of the bold steps that our company has made. We’ve committed to 10 diversity, equity, and inclusion goals. And now only did we set those goals, but we’ve put metrics behind them, we’ve put measuring behind them, we’ve put accountability behind them, so that we’re ensuring that these are done. And, a lot of it is just that. First of it is bringing awareness and understanding. Because, if your life is okay, you go, “What’s the problem? Everything’s fine for me, there is no problem.” But, you first have to identify that there is a problem, and that it’s not a level playing field for everyone. So first of it, it’s awareness, it’s understanding, it’s talking, it’s conversations. It’s bringing in information, like I mentioned before, to expand your blinders. Because, you can’t make change unless you know that change is needed. 

So, that’s been the first thing for us, and that’s where we started with those facilitated conversations. Bringing about awareness to leadership. Leadership has been a part of that, our executive leadership has been a part of this every step of the way, and as I’ve mentioned, they’ve leaned into this. So, if you’re in an organization and you’re looking to make change, the change has to start with leadership. Leadership has to buy into this, because otherwise you’re going to spin your wheels. If it doesn’t come from the top down… It must come from the top down, as the [inaudible] body. And so, it is important that leadership first buys into this, and understands the importance of it. Because, most of us have very diverse workforces. And so, that being the case, where we live, our communities, they’re diverse. So, we have to start there. And, it has to be about education. Remember I said, 90% comes from the subconscious. We have to change the way we view things.

From there, then you can begin to implement change. But the awareness has to come first because otherwise you’re not going to know where. So, we’ve been very careful with that. Part of my role, is I lead our 12 Business Resource Groups, which we talked about in the intro. And so, with that, that becomes very important. Our Business Resource Groups are vehicles, they’re made up of our employees, and so we are constantly getting information out through these vehicles. But the most important thing is that leadership has signed in, they’ve linked arms, they’re allies with us on this journey. We talk a lot about psychological safety, creating psychologically safe environments for our employees, that they have a voice. And so, so much of what we’re talking about, it comes from people feeling confident to know that they have a voice. If they see something, that that they can say something. What I always back it up with, DNI, what we back it up with, is that it’s done respectfully.

Melyssa Barrett: Absolutely.

Rochelle Holoman: Because I’ll tell you. If you don’t handle… And this is in everyday life. This is from work, to family, to friends. If you don’t handle situations with respect, people dig their heels in into their beliefs. And, we [inaudible] accomplish anything. So, when we’re talking about becoming true allies, what that means is educating ourselves. “What does that mean? How does that fit?” Show up where you are. You don’t have to, as we say, go boil the ocean. Start where you are. Educate your self, begin to educate those that are around you. And, as we all make these strides together, that’s where we see the change. At our company, we’re calling for a cultural shift, a cultural transformation in how we interact with one another, and how we do business.

Melyssa Barrett: Wow, that’s fantastic. Let’s pause for a moment. We’ll be right back.

Now, one of the other terms that you mentioned was you call your groups Business Resource Groups, versus Employee Resource Groups.

Rochelle Holoman: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Melyssa Barrett: Was that an actual change that occurred? Or did they always start off as a Business Resource Group?

Rochelle Holoman: Great question. So, our teams, last year, we had nine ERGs, Employee Resource Groups, and we had three Business Resource Groups. And, I’ll fill the audience in, and I’m sure a lot of them are aware of the difference between the two. Employee Resource Group is just that. They’re overarching initiative, strategies, are all geared towards the employee experience. The difference with the Business Resource Group is it shifts to the business strategy, and the businesses initiatives, which also then encompasses the employee experience. So, it comes from a higher overarching objective. 

So, what we did was we ensured that all of our teams operated from a business plan standpoint, they all have board of directors. We set that structure in place, and then we ensured that they tied and aligned with company strategy. And, they’ve demonstrated that for two years now. And so, all of our teams in October of 2020 were all promoted to Business Resource Groups. And, we’re extremely proud. I’m extremely proud because it was done on my watch, and it was intentional on my part, that that was done for them. And, leadership was able to recognize… And you know 2020, we all shifted those teams… They shifted on dime, every one of their business plans had to be revamped and rethought from a virtual standpoint. And, they did it, and with flying colors. And, they instituted programs and things that now we’re beginning to go externally and tell our story, because they’re making such great strides.

Melyssa Barrett: That’s fantastic. That’s what we like to hear. When you finally connect the employees, the business initiatives, because employees then feel like they are the ambassador of the company.

Rochelle Holoman: That’s right.

Melyssa Barrett: Everywhere they go, they can really tie into and engage on all of these efforts that are going on, in some form or fashion, or whatever they want to be participating in. 

Rochelle Holoman: Yes. And, let me add the flip side to that, because I gave you the benefit to the company. Here’s the benefit to our employees. We have leadership development programs, and that’s part of my commitment to them, is that I’m going to give you the visibility, I’m going to ensure that we are programming in place… My motto is leadership for the next level. I say leadership for the next level because that looks different for each of us. But, what is that? Identify that. Determine what that is. 

And now, we’re going to give you the tools to take you there. One of the things that I’m instituting and I’m working with leadership on right now, is that we turn this volunteerism into actual work experience. You are leading teams. You are showing [inaudible] managerial experience. That needs to be on your résumé.

Melyssa Barrett: Yes.

Rochelle Holoman: So that when you’re applying for a job, you can say, “I’ve got two years of experience on a BRG. This counts towards managerial experience, and look at what I learned”. So, it’s the benefit to our employee, of the visibility, they’re before our CEO constantly. Our CEO knows their name. How many companies can you say that? When you have 13,000 plus employees, that the CEO knows your name because of the engagement with the BRGs, they lean completely in. And so, there’s promotions that take place, and great ideas that they come up with that turn into programs, something tangible. So, there’s such benefit to the employee of joining these teams, as well as that mutual benefit for the company.

Melyssa Barrett: Absolutely. And, what a way to create your own personal networks and engagement as you manage through that process. Because, I think sometimes when we think about going to the next level, it’s a perfect opportunity to lean into those relationships that you probably have made during this type of engagement.

Rochelle Holoman: And, we’re tracking it now. We, before, didn’t have matrix in place. We’re tracking this now, so that we can send reports up to leadership that says, “Look at how many of our BRG employees have been promoted as a result of this work”.

Melyssa Barrett: That’s fantastic.

Rochelle Holoman: “Look at the engagement”. So, we’re setting all of these metrics, that we can then show our value to leadership. How we’re bringing in… We’re attracting new talent. All of these aspects of what we do, we were putting metrics because it’s so important to validate it, to show leadership the worth and the value [inaudible].

Melyssa Barrett: That’s fantastic. I love it. Are you seeing different challenges, now that you have moved into this realm?

Rochelle Holoman: Yes. I think it’s like anything in life. There are pros, there are cons, there’s ups, there’s downs, there are people that agree, there are people that don’t agree. And so, I would have to say that by large, overwhelmingly, this has been received well by our employees. There are some [inaudible] and there are some challenges, we’ll have some of our discussions, and that’s where it requires… And, that’s what we call the Leading with Courage on Inclusion. Because, you’re stepping into conversations and it requires bravery there. The key thing is that if know that all that we’re doing is coming from a place of respect, coming from a place of human rights, coming from a place of treating all people with dignity and respect, because that’s what they deserve, then we know that we’re on the side of what’s right. And so, even as there is opposition at times to the message, we know that this message is the right message.

And so, what we do with that is we give an ear to everyone. Everyone deserves to be heard. So, we ensure that if there is opposition, that they’re heard, and then we take things through its normal channels. If need be, then we even get leadership’s buy-in, as to what is the correct course for our company, and what is the precedence and what we’re trying to set. 

So, yes, there is always going to be some opposition. And, especially when you’re talking about changing lives and people going into spaces that are uncomfortable or new. We gave that driving analogy, whenever it’s new it’s uncomfortable, and the first thing your brain goes is, “Mm-mm (negative). Don’t want to do this”. But, learning is important. And, we know that anything that you take on that’s new, there’s always that struggle to say, “I can do this. I [inaudible]”, whatever the case is. But, that’s just your brain, because it likes to keep things normal. So, we know that this is new, we know that this is new territory, but we are just thankful that people are willing to have the conversations, to be vulnerable, because we all learn when they do. And then, from there, as challenges arise, again, we lean into them respectfully. Doing our best to see all sides. But then, setting precedents, as to what we believe is right and what we believe is the right direction.

Melyssa Barrett: Have the efforts that you all have been doing internally… And, this doesn’t have to be specifically for SCE, but are you seeing connections into community, where perhaps you haven’t seen that before? Or with customers? In a way that is more significant than it was prior to this momentum we talked about?

Rochelle Holoman: Yes. And, I mentioned earlier, what happened was our networkers, which is our Black African American, BRG, prior to COVID, prior to the racial unrest, in 2019, hosted series what we call Space For Dialogue. Where employees, [inaudible] was invited to come in, and talk about work environment, things on the exterior that may be affecting work environment. It was open conversations. They held 11 of them, and they captured things. Because, we got this was so important, we’re hearing from our employee base. 

One of the things that was important about them as well is that they’re one of our largest teams, and so their membership is not just black employees. It crosses all ethnicities. And, we heard from them, we heard from all ethnicities, kind of the same things. And so, what leadership did was… We were posed in 2020 to now take these things and now institute some programing, and some directive, some strategy. Well, then COVID hit. And then of course, we know everything transpired after that. So, we were beautifully positioned to go to leadership and say, “Here is the African American experience at SCE.” 

Melyssa Barrett: Wow.

Rochelle Holoman: Without knowing that all of this was coming down. We were poised, we were positioned. And so, it was perfect for our leadership because then they could take those things, and from those things they developed 10 DEI goals, and those are those goals that I mentioned that are in process right now. So, they’re piloting a lot of those programs, through our black employees first. This is the company’s commitment. They then roll out into our other BRGs of color. So, right now, those other 11 teams are now, starting next month, will host their own Space for Dialogue, so that we’re getting a whole perspective. We have veterans, we have LGBTQ, we have Asian, Island, Pacific, caregivers. It just goes on and on. We have 12 of them, but we want to get the perspective of all of their memberships. We will then roll those up, those things will be used for 2022.

So, as I’ve mentioned, Edison is opening up programs to underserved communities, they’re opening up [inaudible] program, which for us is an entry level position, however, it pays huge, [inaudible] start you out, then they become [inaudible]. And, we are putting a large number of money into that program, getting people through LA Trade Tech. I’m going to through that out there, because that program is going to be coming in about April. LA Trade Tech has alignments programs. We are going to come to that program, and there’s a certain number of people we’re really looking… And, this is transparency, we’re looking to start with black employees. And people right out of high school, they don’t have to have any type of degree, can come into this program, [inaudible], SCE will sponsor all of their cost. And, these are life changing jobs.

Melyssa Barrett: [crosstalk] changing. Generational changing.

Rochelle Holoman: If I told you the dollar amount that they make, entry level, and that Edison is then going to pay for everything, schooling, their licensing, everything, [inaudible] everything. So, it’s programs like that. And, we have 10 of those in place. We’re putting our money where our mouth is.

Melyssa Barrett: Wow, that’s awesome. Shout out to SCE. Come on Edison. That’s fantastic. And, there’s so many opportunities. I love the fact that the real connection to the community, in terms of opportunities that you’re providing, that literally can be life changing. You get out of high school, and you have an entire career… Especially when we’re talking about energy, there’s so many things going on with energy now. And, to be able to train new workforces for all of the new energy initiatives that are going on, is just fantastic. 

Rochelle Holoman: And, Edison does that in so many areas. Solar, all of those alternative energy sources. Another thing that’s beautiful with our BRGs, that’s one of our commitment, is to our communities. So, one of the programs that we do, and we [inaudible] this, is that all 12 teams, every single year they pick a non-profit, and we then give a day of volunteerism. This last year we had to do it differently, because everything was virtual. But, in times past, we would show up and we’d get employees to sign up, and whatever they need done, we rolled up our sleeves and got it done. And then, we make a contribution to that non-profit, of $5000. So, every one of our teams does that every single year. And that’s in addition to all of the other community work that they do. Our BRGs are [inaudible], that’s one of the three legs of our stool, is the community. And so, so much of what we do is based around providing information, we’re providing programing, providing low cost and energy efficient products, so there is an array. 

And so, I would even welcome anyone listening, go into sce.com, there are so many programs. Refrigerator programs, [inaudible], people that are in need of… It just goes on and on and on, the resources that have been made available. Need assistance with paying even their bills. A lot of that is done through non-profits that you can literally give assistance, paying your bills. So many benefits to the community.

Melyssa Barrett: That’s fantastic. And, Lord knows there’s a lot of folks that need that right now.

Rochelle Holoman: Yes. 

Melyssa Barrett: So, that’s fantastic. Thank you for sharing that information with us. Thank you for joining me for this conversation. It has just been fabulous. And, I have a feeling this won’t be the last conversation.

Rochelle Holoman: It will not. You better invite me back here. 

Melyssa Barrett: Absolutely.

Rochelle Holoman: This has been awesome. An opportunity to share the work that we are doing, so thank you. And, thank you for making this podcast available, that people can gain information and then really pay it forward. 

Melyssa Barrett: Yes.

Rochelle Holoman: And we say become an ally, find your place and make a difference.

Melyssa Barrett: Absolutely. Well, there we have, Rochelle Holoman, thank you so much. Thank you for all you’re doing within Southern California Edison, and for the leadership there, for recognizing all of the things that need to be done from an initiative. Like you said, you have to start at the top, and we appreciate all of the folks sitting at the top that are really encouraging and forcing this work to be a priority. So, thank you for being here.

Rochelle Holoman: Thank you.

Melyssa Barrett: And, I look forward to our next discussion.

Rochelle Holoman: Me too. Have a wonderful afternoon. Thanks so much.

Melyssa Barrett: You too. 

Thanks for joining me on The Jali Podcast. Please subscribe so you won’t miss an episode. See you next week.