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"CenterPoint Energys Three Pillars of Diversity"

Remarks to the
Asian Chamber of Commerce


March 7, 2013

Thanks, Bin, for the kind introduction, and thanks to Linda and the Asian
Chamber of Commerce for having me here today. Its great to spend some time
with such a wonderful mix of people. Its not hard to gather such a diverse set of
folks here in Houston because as you may know, we are now the most ethnically
diverse city in America. Take that New York!
Im sure we all share a belief that Houstons diversity is one of our citys
great strengths. CenterPoint Energy certainly believes so, and our vision of
diversity rests on three strong pillars that I will share with you today: our relations
with diverse communities, building a diverse and inclusive workforce, and teaming
with high-quality diverse suppliers. These three pillars make our company strong,
our economy strong, and our community strong.
Pillar one: strengthening diverse communities to achieve common goals
As youll see, at CenterPoint Energy, we like the number three. Each of
these three pillars has three main objectives. For community relations they are
One: building relationships with the communities we serve and
reaching out to our customers as a caring neighbor,
Two: showing our commitment through sponsorship of community
events and financial contributions to charities, civic organizations,
educational programs and economic development initiatives, and
Three: actively promoting volunteer service among our employees
and demonstrating as a team that we make a difference.
CenterPoint Energy employees live, work, and serve in dozens of
communities throughout the greater Houston area. We are your neighbors. Many
employees from executive offices down to neighborhood service centers actively
serve their communities on professional or nonprofit boards of directors. In 2012,
more than a quarter of our management shared their leadership, financial skills,
and industry expertise on the boards of over 220 community organizations,
including civic development, education, and social services.
To encourage and reward service to the community, CenterPoint Energy
awarded over 91 thousand dollars last year to nonprofits on behalf of employees
board service or volunteer support through our Grant Incentives for Volunteer
Employees program, known by the acronym GIVE.
As caring neighbors, we reach out to those most in need to help manage their
energy costs. For example, we partnered with nonprofits to distribute 17 hundred
energy assistance and conservation kits to low-income natural gas customers and

completed an equal number of free furnace tune-ups and safety checks valued at
173 thousand dollars. Through partnerships with community action agencies and
nonprofit organizations, our Agencies in Action program delivered energy
efficiency upgrades to over one thousand low-income electric consumers. These
are just a few of the ways we build relationships with our communities as good
corporate citizens and neighbors.
In support of our second objective, we sponsor many community events,
support and conduct educational programs, and help drive economic development.
I could spend a half hour just listing the community events which we sponsor and
participate in from walkathons, cycling events, fishing tournaments and other
fundraisers for the March of Dimes, United Negro College Fund, National Multiple
Sclerosis Society, Susan G. Komen and more.
While those events help educate and engage the public regarding health and
social issues, we also work to educate our neighbors about energy efficiency,
safety, and careers. In 2012, our employees gave nearly 700 presentations to
students on electric and natural gas safety and energy careers. Our Energy Wise
Program provided over 16 thousand sixth graders with an Energy Wise Kit of
compact florescent light bulbs, digital thermostats, and other items to help their
families save a projected 1.4 million kilowatt hours of electricity.
Energy conservation not only saves consumers money, but it also helps save
our environment. Our employees care for the environment by recycling water,
planting trees responsibly, and protecting wildlife and by driving and promoting
alternative-fueled vehicles. To cite just one example, we encourage Houstonians to
plant the Right Tree in the Right Place away from power lines as part of an
effort to balance reliable delivery of electricity with environmental responsibility.
We replaced 100 trees in Pecan Grove which were growing beneath power lines,
replaced 166 thousand dollars worth of trees for individual customers, and
partnered with the City of Houston to plant trees in Hermann Park to celebrate
Arbor Day.
Houston is a green city not just in energy conservation and environmental
stewardship, but also in economic opportunity. CenterPoint Energy employees
help attract new businesses and jobs to our diverse communities by active
involvement in over 30 economic development organizations, which were
responsible for about 14 thousand jobs in the Houston area in 2012. The
International Economic Development Council recognized CenterPoint Energy with
a Leadership Award at their 2012 conference, and Site Selection Magazine named
us one of the Top 10 Utilities in Economic Development.

Our third community relations objective volunteerism is woven into the

fabric of our company. In 2012, our employees, retirees and their families
contributed approximately 250 thousand hours of volunteer time, valued at over
five million dollars. But to our volunteers and the people whose lives they have
affected, these hours are priceless. Our employees give not just their time, but also
their money, their hearts, their blood, sweat, and tears. In addition to the causes I
mentioned earlier, our employees support countless other national, regional, and
local organizations such as the United Way, Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center,
American Cancer Society, or one dear to my heart, the Sunflower Mission.
Even as they give, they receive. CenterPoint Energy is a proud sponsor of
the March of Dimes, and for employees like Stacey Murphree, its personal.
Staceys son George, born 11 weeks premature two-and-a-half years ago, is one of
millions of children whose lives have been saved by March of Dimes research.
This year will be Staceys twelfth year to march and Georges first.
Volunteerism like Staceys, along with economic development, education,
civic engagement and community outreach bring together and strengthen
Houstons diverse communities to achieve our common goals and interests.
Pillar two: building a diverse workforce to serve diverse customers
It is natural then that we strive to harness the strengths of this diverse
community to build our workforce, the second pillar of CenterPoint Energys
vision of diversity. Like our city, CenterPoint Energy is diverse, from our Board
of Directors with two women and three minorities, including our chairman on
down to the men and woman in trucks and on phones delivering energy and
customer service.
We are committed to creating an open and inclusive work environment
where we achieve business results through the skills, abilities, and talents of a
diverse workforce. Again, our policy of workforce diversity and inclusion features
three elements through which we foster:
A culture of mutual respect which considers different backgrounds
and viewpoints as competitive advantages,
An environment where all employees have opportunities for personal
and professional development, and
Recognition that diversity and inclusion are key components of our
business competencies.

Our diverse Board of Directors, our President and CEO, and the rest of our
executive and senior management champion diversity and support our Human
Resources teams pursuit of an evergreen workforce diversity strategy. We
manage diversity and inclusion from the initial sourcing strategy all the way
through the employee life cycle. Our recruiters review, identify, and maintain
relationships with diverse professional organizations and key sourcing agencies.
We promote our vision and commitment to diversity at recruiting events and on the
Careers page of our website, which features profiles of diverse employees, like
Robee Kafle.
From the time they are hired, all employees complete required diversity
training both online and in class from new employee orientation, through
annual required training, and upon assumption of a management role. Diversity
awareness is also a core element of performance assessment and career
development. Diversity and inclusion are even tied to executive pay incentives.
Twice a year we calculate, distribute and communicate diversity metrics to
management, our CEO, and Board of Directors.
Because we do believe that diversity is a competitive advantage, we make
efforts to create an environment in which personnel activities remain free from
discrimination, including recruitment, selection, training, benefits and
compensation, promotions and transfers, as well as discipline, workforce reduction,
or termination.
As I said, Diversity Awareness is one of several specific business
competencies upon which we assess our employees work performance.
Employees should demonstrate sensitivity to the viewpoints of others and treat all
people with dignity. They should also support an inclusive work environment and
demonstrate behavior that allows others to contribute to their full potential. Again,
we view diversity as an enabler of business success that we all must nurture. To
help build this business competency, we offer five online training courses on
diversity and inclusion as well as 50 books and 18 DVDs plus additional
instructor-led training for company leadership.
We dont just talk about diversity and inclusion. As part of our strategy, we
are pursuing a series of initiatives to build and nurture our diverse workforce and
promote diversity and inclusion beyond our own doors. First, we have developed
internal processes to facilitate representation of women and minorities at
CenterPoint Energy. We give business unit leaders demographic reports to
identify areas of opportunity, particularly in job groups underutilizing women and

minorities, and those leaders meet regularly with our CEO to discuss plans to
address diversity gaps.
Second, we have expanded recruitment efforts at Historically Black Colleges
and Universities, the Hispanic Association for Colleges and Universities, and other
colleges that produce qualified female and minority candidates. We continue inkind and monetary support of campus-based organizations focusing on female and
minority student development, such as the National Society of Black Engineers,
the Society of Women Engineers, and the Society of Hispanic Professional
Engineers. We also continue to use cooperative education and intern students from
more than a dozen colleges and universities across our territory. Last year, we
increased the number of our female engineering co-op students by fifty percent.
Third, we actively participate in workshops, luncheons, and speaking
engagements at the Gulf Coast Chapter of the Texas Diversity Council to gain
knowledge and share best practices in diversity and workforce planning.
Fourth, we continue to participate in activities with the Association of
Electric Companies of Texas, through which member companies exchange
information on public policy and communicate with government officials and the
Fifth, we have established a Women in Leadership initiative to develop
opportunities to advance women in leadership roles throughout the company and a
grassroots, employee-driven group, called MyPoint, to address multi-generational
issues. This group, which has its own Board and budget, gives younger employees
informal access to company leadership.
Sixth, we are pursuing a strategy to enhance diversity by increasing our
recruitment of technically trained military talent. We hired a full-time employee
devoted solely to recruiting military personnel. We attend military career fairs to
establish relationships and recruit military veterans, and we have met with other
employers to discuss best practices for military recruitment. During 2012, we
hired 40 military veterans, and G.I. Jobs magazine for three straight years named
us among the Top 100 Military Friendly Employers. When we hire vets, we know
they bring a commitment to serve their community as they served their country.
Pillar three: engaging diverse suppliers to provide business solutions
The third and final pillar of our diversity vision is supplier diversity. Armed
with a diverse and inclusive workforce to build relationships with and serve our
diverse communities, why wouldnt we seek the strength of diverse business

partners who are also connected to the diverse mosaic that is Houston? Supplier
diversity isnt philanthropy; its good business, and its common sense. As with
our community relations and workforce diversity strategy, we have three supplier
diversity objectives:
One: to actively and routinely seek qualified Minority and Womenowned Business Enterprises that provide competitive and high-quality
commodities and services;
Two: to encourage support of supplier diversity by major suppliers to
CenterPoint Energy who are not MWBEs; and
Three: to seek opportunities to assist the development and
competitiveness of MWBEs through instruction, mentoring, and other
outreach activities.
In a market like Houston, where minorities are a majority, seeking diverse
suppliers is common sense and good business. Competitive and qualified MWBEs
can often deliver creative, cost-effective, and specialized solutions. CenterPoint
Energy relies on MWBEs for a variety of products and services such as wholesale
natural gas and fuel; construction, lumber and fencing; office supplies and support;
printing, photography, and advertising; rigging and welding; catering and flowers;
plus accounting/financing, engineering, IT, and other professional services, and
much more. In 2012, we increased our overall MWBE spend by 15 percent and our
MWBE professional spend in Houston by 53 percent.
How do we do it? As with workforce diversity, we do it with support and
engagement from the top, the middle, and the bottom. In 2012, we declared March
to be Supplier Diversity month at CenterPoint Energy. We launched an intranet
site to profile diverse suppliers and employees who engage them, and we held halfday open houses to bring MWBEs and CenterPoint Energy leaders together. Our
executives and business unit leaders shared their major projects emerging over the
next few years to identify upcoming needs and opportunities. MWBEs gave
overviews of their capabilities and got one-on-one time with CenterPoint Energy
decision makers to start building those relationships and get to work on their
RFPs, Is and Qs.
Even as we build relationships directly with MWBEs, we facilitate our
second supplier diversity objective by bringing MWBEs and our major nonMWBE suppliers together to identify and pursue further opportunities. In April,
we will hold our annual Supplier Diversity Recognition breakfast to honor some of
our top MWBE suppliers and employee supporters of MWBEs. As always, the
event will be followed by a workshop with our majority suppliers such as IBM,

GE, Itron, North Houston Pole Line/Quanta Services, HD Supply, and Kelly
Services just to name a few. We participate in similar events throughout the year,
and we encourage our majority suppliers to find opportunities to subcontract with
qualified MWBEs.
Our third supplier diversity objective is to work directly with MWBEs to
help them become more competitive. In addition to the open house and workshops
Ive mentioned, we host or cohost supplier diversity events, forums, conferences,
and expos throughout the year across our footprint. We have mentored MWBEs
for years, but Ill give those of you who may want to do business with us a few tips
right here:
One: be prepared.
o Get certified with the Houston Minority Supplier Development
Council and/or Womens Business Enterprise Alliance and
maintain your certification. HMSDC and WBEA are great
resources for MBWEs.
o Do some research to understand our needs, then determine how
you can fulfill those needs, but
o be ready to deliver and dont promise more than you can deliver
or bite off more than you can chew.
Two: use our supplier diversity organization and resources.
o Go to our website at CenterPoint Energy dot com slash
supplier diversity and register with us;
o Check our calendar of events to see where well be, and
o Contact Us to get in touch with our dedicated supplier diversity
Three: be patient but persistent.
o Count on our Supplier Diversity team to help navigate you to
company decision makers so you can build those relationships
o Sometimes the opportunity may not ripen until an existing
contract expires in a year or two or three
o Get your foot in the door, deliver business results, and see what
additional opportunities may arise.

We have a long history at CenterPoint Energy of promoting and nurturing

supplier diversity, and weve been honored by the Houston Minority Supplier
Development Council, Womens Business Enterprise Alliance, the Texas Diversity
Council and others for our commitment.

After all, in the interdependent mosaic that is Houston, the most diverse city
in America, partnering with diverse suppliers, developing a diverse and inclusive
workforce, and building relationships with our diverse community isnt only right
and natural, its as simple as one, two, three.
Thank you.