Case History: Putting Diversity to Work
Not long ago, our SoCalGas field employees told management about a trend among Vietnamese customers, who were altering floor furnaces to use as grills. The practice needed to stop, because such changes could cause carbon-monoxide poisoning or an explosion.
SoCalGas sprung to action at once, launching an education campaign and sending workers to repair the furnaces. But, what seemed like a dilemma of culture versus safety didn't end there.
Many families wouldn't let the workers into their homes. To comply with state and federal regulations, the SoCalGas employees wore steel-toed boots, which the homeowners demanded they remove before stepping inside.
Company officials were stumped, but they had a resource at hand: a large number of Vietnamese employees that was part of the growing number of Asian immigrants in Orange County. These employees came up with a novel solution, which was to cover the required boots with paper booties.
The value of corporate diversity is clearest to the customer at this level, where a range of backgrounds adds to a range of customer-service solutions.
But, at Sempra Energy, the parent company of SoCalGas, proof of diversity extends through every level of our business model. That means that not only do the company's employees represent the areas they serve, they do so in every facet of the company—from construction technicians working on the street to the customer call centers where 16 languages are spoken.