Wednesday, October 6, 1999

U.S. lauds
Hawaiian Electric
for diversity

The company was one of
five businesses recognized
nationally for its hiring practices

By Russ Lynch


Hawaiian Electric Industries Hawaiian Electric Co. today was recognized by Labor Secretary Alexis M. Herman for its equal-opportunity employment practices, as one of only five businesses in the United States to receive the "Exemplary Volunteer Efforts" award.

"Hawaiian Electric was a business-as-usual utility run almost exclusively by nonminority men, but it has transformed itself into an open-door workplace where tradition is not allowed to block opportunity," Herman said in a statement issued by the regional U.S. Department of Labor office in San Francisco. "It has made remarkable progress in building a diverse work force that better reflects the faces of Hawaii."

In a telephone news conference from Washington this morning, Herman said the awards were to federal government contractors and nonprofit organizations that make a sincere effort at diversity in employment.

Today's announcement, she said, particularly stressed efforts to ensure that "America's working women that put in a fair day's work will return home with a fair day's pay." However, she said the awards were for overall improvement in hiring minorities.

She said women comprise one-third of the Hawaiian Electric work force of 1,422 and the company has 112 veterans in official and managerial positions.

The utility is a partner in a YMCA program called NEW, for Nontraditional Employment for Women, that trains women as carpenters, sheet metal workers and electricians.

The company also works with other community organizations, rehabilitation centers and Veterans Affairs offices.

Receiving the award from Herman today in Washington were two Hawaiian Electric executives -- Patricia Uyehara Wong, vice president of corporate excellence, and Faye Maeda, manager of work force staffing and development.

Hawaiian Electric Co. is the utility subsidiary of Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc.

The other four EVE awards announced today went to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Delaware; the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash.; Payne & Dolan, a highway construction firm in Waukesha, Wis.; and University Hospitals of Cleveland. The Labor Department gave its top award, Opportunity 2000, to Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly & Co.

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