Salt River Project

Company: Salt River Project (SRP)
Diversity Team Name: Diversity & Inclusion Team
Diversity Team Leader(s): Essen Otu

What Makes this Diversity Team Stand Out

SRP’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Team

Formalized in 2019, SRP’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) team consists of four full-time members supporting 5,200 employees by working to make diversity, equity and inclusion a fundamental component of our corporate culture.

Significant Achievements

Essen Otu, Manager DEI, conceptualized the Brave Space Dialogue series to address critical topics related to the diverse spectrum of employee experiences. The quarterly series has provided a psychologically safe place for employees to understand and discuss topics, including the social unrest of 2020, microaggressions, generational diversity, and intersectionality. Employee Resource Group (ERG) board members and DEI champions are engaged as breakout room facilitators in the virtual sessions, allowing small group discussions.

Ina Heffner manages SRP’s Corporate Mentoring Program. Formal mentorship opportunities include both leadership and career/technical tracks, while peer mentoring is offered through Lean-In Together Circles. Ina and the Corporate Mentoring Committee adopted processes that include anonymous applications to reduce unconscious bias in selection and matching. In the past year, more than 60 mentorship engagements have been facilitated with an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 in overall mentee satisfaction.

Matthew Knotts serves as liaison to SRP’s ten ERGs. In 2020, he formed the ERG Governance and DEI Advisory Council, consisting of ERG chairs and executive sponsors. The Council created a more equitable sponsorship model, increasing visibility of ERGs across leadership. In addition, Matthew developed a quarterly ERG metrics reporting process that defines success measures and links ERG activities to DEI and corporate objectives. ERG officers are also offered quarterly professional development sessions.

Hector Jaramillo manages SRP’s DEI training programs. In the past year, the team was certified in, and delivered, inclusion training in partnership with the NeuroLeadership Institute. More than 600 leaders (91%) completed the training, which built on growth mindset training delivered during the prior year. As a result, 86% of leaders say they are more confident in fostering a more inclusive workplace. Hector worked with SRP’s Organizational Development department to integrate the training into the company’s leadership development program. The team created an all-employee version of the training, which focuses on ways individual performers can build more inclusive teams.

The DEI team conducted its first Diversity & Inclusion Employee Survey, which measured employees’ perceptions of SRP’s DEI initiatives. Results were presented to leadership, comparing individual business units to SRP overall, as well as benchmarking against other companies and the utility industry. As a result of the survey, DEI and business units are taking specific actions to elevate employee voices.

The DEI team has also worked to build SRP’s DEI brand in the communities we serve. Team members have served as moderators and panel members for local and national panel discussions. In addition, they have created opportunities for our DEI champions and ERG members to be featured in SRP’s external blog and marketing campaigns.


In 2020, Forbes named SRP a Best Employer for Diversity and one of America’s Best Employers by State.