Melody Birmingham Melody Birmingham
Executive Vice President, NiSource
Group President, NiSource Utilities


April 19, 2023


It is a known fact that access to reliable energy is critical for basic human needs, driving economic growth and poverty alleviation. That is why when we talk about an energy strategy for America’s future, we need to talk about more than how we source, produce, and use that energy. The fact is, if we are to design a sustainable and effective path that balances the diverse needs and perspectives that exist, we must take actions in the present day that will generate positive consequences for generations yet to come.  

The question is — how can organizations transform and maintain long-term competitiveness, while at the same time ensuring that no one is left behind? 

To start, by developing an economically inclusive model that creates opportunities for a diverse workforce and investments in local businesses, organizations can play a critical role in serving as sustainable growth engines.   

At NiSource, we are pursuing this objective in several ways.  

As we continue to work toward a thoughtful and efficient energy path forward, we are also focusing on driving efforts to support economic inclusion in the regions we serve. This includes generating opportunities that benefit our employees, customers, partners, and our communities.   

For example, our multi-stakeholder approach with our supplier base enables diverse businesses to grow and thrive. Partnerships with our diverse suppliers – particularly women and veteran owned businesses and organizations – are critical to strengthening local engagement, fueling innovation, and providing reliable energy to our communities. With that in mind, we have set a goal to reach a 25 percent diverse supplier spend by 2025.   

Investing in diverse suppliers will enhance their ability to obtain larger contracts that have a greater, more meaningful impact on our company, our stakeholders and their communities. To help drive our “25-by-25” effort, we also are improving our training and progress-monitoring procedures and revising the processes that we use to engage and partner with diverse suppliers.    

We are also actively working to attract, recruit and increase diverse talent across the organization. We have enhanced our professional development programs to support our diverse employees, strengthen their engagement, and increase retention. NiSource also maintains internal Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), which are created to support and provide professional opportunities to specific segments of our workforce.  

These efforts to expand our workforce diversity are extremely beneficial from a strategic growth perspective. Greater diversity brings onboard a broader, richer range of voices, perspectives, and ideas—ideas that help NiSource improve its operations, and better match its offerings to serve an equally diverse customer base.   

By investing in a wide range of community-driven economic initiatives in partnership with states, localities, and nonprofit organizations, we can bolster our corporate competitiveness, while driving socially inclusive growth. This is especially the case in our energy workforce development initiatives, which include educational programs designed to build our company’s future workforce, such as paid Summer Youth Energy Ambassador internships provided in partnership with local Urban League and NAACP organizations, among other initiatives.   

Taken together, these programs are essential to NiSource’s overall efforts to drive forward a successful and sustainable business for the future.  

We understand that inclusiveness and growth are complementary functions; that’s why we remain committed to bolstering community-level growth across all levels of our enterprise. It helps us lay the path for industry transformation, and it simply makes good business sense.  

About the authors

Melody Birmingham

Melody Birmingham