FE Foundation and JCP&L Host LGBTQ Symposium

JCP&L President Jim Fakult welcomes attendees to the LGBTQ Equality at Work Symposium, noting at JCP&L, diversity is seen as a blueprint for success.

April 4, 2019

FirstEnergy is far from alone in recognizing and pursuing the value of employee diversity and inclusion. At a recent event sponsored by the FirstEnergy Foundation and JCP&L, corporate leaders from across New Jersey gathered to hear from industry change-makers who are driving innovative diversity practices.

The first annual LGBTQ Equality at Work Symposium took place at JCP&L headquarters at the Bell Works, the former Bell Labs Holmdel Complex in Holmdel, N.J., Approximately 130 people, representing companies throughout the state, attended the day-long event.

With its focus on the LGBTQ community, this event was the first of its kind in New Jersey. The agenda concentrated on ways to improve the knowledge and effectiveness of employee resource groups, affinity groups and diversity councils regarding LGBTQ inclusion in the workplace.

The symposium was the brainchild of leaders of Garden State Equality, a statewide advocacy and education organization for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. The group’s Director of Development Denise Rodriguez spoke at a JCP&L event last year launching the new, local presence of Alternate Current, a FirstEnergy employee business resource group. After seeing  the Bell Works facility, Denise thought it would be the perfect location for the Equality at Work Symposium. She asked for, and received, JCP&L’s help in securing the venue.

“We’re proud to support this first-of-its-kind event by providing a suitable location,” said Karen Lawhun, JCP&L Human Resources manager. “We also thank the FirstEnergy Foundation for supporting the symposium through a monetary donation to cover some of the costs. This event was valuable for New Jersey companies because it provided tested ideas and insights on LGBTQ-affirming practices. It was valuable for the LGBTQ community and for JCP&L, too, as every step we take toward more outreach and inclusion is a step in the right direction.”

The symposium was attended by approximately 130 representatives of companies across New Jersey. At the podium, Tracey Fama of pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline speaks about “The Role of the Ally in Developing a Strong Employee Resource Group: Some Notes from the Field.”

Attorney, speaker, activist and writer Robyn Gigl lead the keynote discussion, “Observations from Both Sides of the Glass Ceiling – A Trans Woman’s Perspective.”

From left, Denise Rodriguez and Executive Director Christian Fuscarino of Garden State Equality with Karen Lawhun and Maani Ibraham of JCP&L Human Resources, who helped coordinate the event.