Operational Excellence
July 18, 2023

Xcel Energy earns top score on Disability Equality Index

Disability:IN gave high marks for the company’s commitment to disability inclusion

Xcel Energy’s commitment to diversity and inclusion in the workplace was recognized earlier this month with the company’s first score of 100 on the Disability Equality Index (DEI). The honor, which also designates the company as one of the “Best Places to Work for Disability Inclusion,” is granted each year by business disability inclusion nonprofit Disability:IN and was awarded at their global conference in Orlando, Florida, on July 10.  

“Receiving this recognition from Disability:IN is truly a reflection of the intention and focus we have on creating a more accepting atmosphere for all of our employees,” said Esther Ledesma Pumarol, director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Giving. “This is an indication that we are moving in the right direction towards our mission of creating an environment where everyone can thrive and be accepted for who they are.” 

The company’s DEI score is based on a wide range of criteria, including culture, leadership, accommodations and community engagement. In 2022, Xcel Energy received a DEI score of 90. Since then, the company has launched ABLE, a business resource group that seeks to empower employees at Xcel Energy with both apparent and nonapparent disabilities and their allies to optimize their talents and achieve their professional and personal goals.   

For Xcel Energy employee Carolyn Sampson, the company’s commitment to inclusivity has had a profound personal impact. Since 2016, Sampson has worked to connect fellow survivors of thalidomide exposure and give them a space to share their stories and find answers about the drug they understand to have caused their birth defects. The recent release of the high-profile book “Wonder Drug: The Secret History of Thalidomide in America and Its Hidden Victims” features Sampson’s story and motivated her to share her experience with her Xcel Energy colleagues.  
Xcel Energy employee Carolyn Sampson holding a copy of "Wonder Drug," a new book about the survivors of Thalidomide exposure.

“I hadn't ever felt like I was bringing my whole self to work,” she said. “I felt like I had a secret. I know people wonder about [my birth defect], but it's hard to tell one person at a time. I wanted everyone I work with to know.” 

Sampson broached the topic with her supervisor and asked about taking time in a weekly staff meeting to share her story and the news of the book release with her co-workers. Her manager was receptive, and Sampson was finally able to speak openly with her colleagues about her birth defect. 

“I'm glad that I did that because I got so much support,” she said. “I never felt like I wasn't accepted here, but after I told everyone, it feels like there's a shift because people understand.” 

Sampson and her colleagues in the ABLE business resource group are helping raise awareness about disabilities and ensuring the talents, skills and experiences of people with disabilities are valued and appreciated at all levels of the organization. 

"Some people say, 'Don't talk about your disability. You don't have to disclose.' But if I can tell people, they don't feel awkward stepping in to help if I’m struggling with something. Just saying ‘bring your whole self to work’ opened up a lot for me. Because I realized, ‘Oh, I'm not bringing my whole self to work, and I want to.’”