April 13, 2021
Keep listening and talking to each other.
That was among the advice four Phillips 66 employees had for attendees last month during “Conversations about the Black Experience,” a panel discussion hosted by Oklahoma State University’s College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology.
“We don't necessarily have to be totally comfortable (having conversations about race),” said David Nash, a Director of Recruiting, Development and Learning at Phillips 66. “In order to build an environment of trust, you have to be able to have honest conversations.”
Nash was joined on the panel by fellow Phillips 66 colleagues Desiree Cromwell, a Pipeline Control Center Manager, and Project Manager Josh King. The discussion was moderated by Phillips 66 Director of Inclusion and Diversity Natacha Buchanan.
The panel discussion, originally scheduled for Feb. 17, was one of the events the university planned in celebration of Black History Month, but it was postponed due to severe winter storms across Texas and Oklahoma.
Culture is key to innovation
The panelists touched on a wide range of subjects, including how they have navigated their careers as Black professionals, the benefits of seeking out mentors within an organization, and what leadership representation means to them.
They also discussed how inclusion and diversity will play a critical role in the longevity of businesses like Phillips 66.
“In order for you as a company to have a viable business model and be able to be innovative and creative, it’s important that you have different perspectives to come up with solutions,” Cromwell said. “You need to have a culture where you’re celebrating differences, and everyone feels a sense of belonging and is willing to share their views.”
Demographics shifting in energy industry
Buchanan penned an op-ed in the Tulsa World before the panel discussion echoing a similar sentiment — that increasing inclusion and diversity in the energy industry will help it tackle the challenges it faces.
In the op-ed, Buchanan cited American Petroleum Institute projections that minority employment will rise from about one-quarter of the total energy workforce in 2015 to 36% in 2035 and to nearly 50% by 2040.
The demographic shift, she wrote, will come as the industry works to meet the dual challenge of providing energy while achieving a lower-carbon footprint.
“Critical to meeting that objective is not only attracting and retaining the most talented, creative thinkers and problem-solvers, but also ensuring an environment where diverse perspectives are encouraged and every employee feels safe, seen, heard and respected,” Buchanan wrote.