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Unlocking potential, embracing diversity: Phillips 66’s drive for an inclusive workforce

An inclusive and diverse workforce drives business performance, helping to position Phillips 66 for the energy future, two company executives told attendees at the Reuters Downstream USA conference in Galveston in June.

“People are our competitive advantage,” said Todd Denton, Senior Vice President of HSE & Field Operations. “We want to encourage them to think big, think boldly and bring their ideas to the table.”

The Reuters conference featured a 30-minute conversation between Denton and Brenda Brinson, General Manager of Culture & People Strategy and Chief Diversity Officer, in which the two discussed the evolution and importance of I&D across the workplace. At Phillips 66, I&D has been a major point of focus, resulting in a more diverse executive leadership team and Board, among other things.

While inclusion and diversity have different monikers at other companies such as DEI, the ordering at Phillips 66 is intentional. “Without inclusion, diversity can’t thrive,” Brinson said.

Brinson said belonging is the top engagement driver at Phillips 66, ensuring employees feel valued and connected. To help build that sense of value and connectivity, Phillips 66 has 10 employee resource groups with nearly 70 chapters across the globe, including the newest group, the Diverse Abilities Network, Denton said.

Denton said I&D is critical to operational excellence, citing an example of the company stopping operations at a Phillips 66 refinery because one worker alone identified a safety issue. “Inclusion is about feeling safe to speak our minds,” he said.

Listening to employees is important in the I&D effort, Brinson said. “Listening creates a foundation of trust and collaboration,” Brinson said. “It’s easier to get better business outcomes and ultimately a sense of belonging.”

Said Denton, “If we can get everyone with their unique perspectives and backgrounds having those conversations, then that’s going to take us as a company to the next level in terms of building a sustainable energy future.”