Cassi Pittman Claytor
Assistant Professor of Sociology, Case Western Reserve University
The energy industry has a diversity problem. About 8% of the workforce is Black, according to a recent report by the nonprofit Energy Futures Initiative, while women make up between 23% and 32%.
“We’re at the bottom,” says Lee Jourdan, the chief diversity officer at Chevron, referring to the industry.
Jourdan is used to being one of the few Black people in his community. Where he grew up, in Rowland Heights, California, he says there were just five Black residents, and they were all in his family.
It wasn’t until his role in organizational development at Chevron that diversity issues at the oil giant came into focus. Jourdan, who’s been with the company for 15 years, was among the few employees privy to numbers on diversity.
“I saw some demographics that told me that we had an opportunity to do more in the diversity space,” he says.
Ultimately, Jourdan took on that opportunity himself — leading Chevron’s diversity and inclusion work starting in the summer of 2018. Jourdan first published data on the company’s racial breakdown. Chevron was the first oil-and-gas major to do so, he says.
Today, he says the company has a larger percentage of racial minorities and women than most other oil-and-gas firms. In 2019, Chevron was a little over 8% Black. Women make up a quarter of the company’s workforce. Jourdan says the company has more work to do at the executive level.
Under Jourdan’s leadership, Chevron has taken on a number of different initiatives, such as deepening relationships with historically black colleges and universities. He’s been a leader in D&I, according to Dennis Kennedy, founder of the National Diversity Council.