Two women look at a piece of artwork held by one of them

Diversity Council members Shana Lawhorn, left, and Carla Salisbury judge entries in the Portsmouth Site Diversity Council Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Art Contest. More than 40 high school and junior high school students participated in this year’s event. Students were encouraged to create artwork supporting the theme, “Be the Love in Your Community.” Prizes were awarded for first, second and third places in two age categories.

PIKE COUNTY, Ohio — A diversity council created at EM’s Portsmouth Site in 2017 has seen substantial growth and opportunities as it works to create a more inclusive environment through outreach and education.

“The Diversity Council plays a significant role onsite as we continue to break down barriers and provide new opportunities for conversations,” Council Co-Chair Tonia Brown said. “When we open our workforce to additional opportunities for all, we receive a wider range of sources and experiences from a diverse population. This leads to better educated decisions and results.”

Fluor-BWXT-Portsmouth (FBP), EM’s deactivation and demolition contractor at the Portsmouth Site, formed the council to increase discussions on diversity, equity and inclusion, and initiate actions throughout the site and in the community.

Made up of 20 volunteers, the group implements site outreach through meet and greet events, communication and employee community involvement.

A group of Diversity Council leaders speak at the front of a room while other people watch and listen

Diversity Council meet and greet events are popular with Portsmouth Site employees. The council provides lunch and organizes icebreaker games to bring co-workers closer together. During these events, the group shares information about what the council does onsite and encourages future conversations.

The council was given its first budget last year and used the opportunity to bring awareness to its onsite work and expand its reach to the local community. The impact can be seen through a pair of $2,000 scholarships to graduating high school seniors, sponsoring the Portsmouth Site Diversity Council Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Art Contest for local high school and junior high students, and supporting local charitable events, including purchasing Christmas gifts for children at a local community center.

“I believe the Diversity Council has led to a great awareness in the importance of diversity and the need to create inclusive environments where everyone feels valued and respected,” Brown said. “The future of diversity is one in which we recognize and celebrate our differences while also finding common ground and shared values.”

Those who have been a part of the group from the beginning say the growth and impact are making a difference at the Portsmouth Site and in the community.

“We are reaching a point where we don’t tiptoe around subjects by holding honest, open conversations,” said Madenia Stafford, FBP Human Resources director and founding Diversity Council member. “It’s become standard to consider things like bias, opportunities and inclusion in many of our human resources and communication practices that were less visible to us in earlier years. We are slowly but surely becoming intentional in the decisions and actions we take.”

-Contributor: Cindi Remy