SJI Celebrates Black History Month by Reflecting on Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives

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FOLSOM, NJ, February 1, 2022 – SJI (NYSE:SJI) embraces Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) as an integral part of the company’s culture and core values. In addition to celebrating Black History Month, SJI is further demonstrating its commitment to D&I by reflecting on its efforts to build an inclusive environment for all, where differences are respected and appreciated.

“SJI’s 1,100+ employees work together to deliver safe, reliable, affordable clean energy to over 700,000 customers who are diverse in experience, background and thought,” said Mike Renna, President and CEO, SJI. “In 2021, we made significant strides to ensure that our company reflected the diversity of the communities we serve. As we continue into the new year, our company is committed to strengthening our D&I Strategy together as One SJI.”

(SJI recently published a video detailing its D&I Strategy. Click the photo above to learn more)
Below is a snapshot of SJI’s recent D&I initiatives:
  • Appointment of Diversity, Inclusion and Engagement Team: In July 2021, SJI named Shawn Abner-Purnell Vice President of Diversity, Inclusion and Engagement, having served as SJI’s Director of Organizational Development, D&I, since 2018. SJI also welcomed TiAira Neal, Program Manager, D&I, in 2021. Neal brings over ten plus years of experience, proven leadership and research in D&I to her role, having held several related positions at higher education institutions such as Westchester University, Rutgers University-Camden and the University of Pennsylvania, as well as a successful tenure as a mental health clinician and behavioral health researcher. In their roles, Abner-Purnell and Neal build strategies that create a culture of inclusion, belonging and engagement for SJI’s workforce. They also guide best practices on critical external matters related to D&I.
  • Employee Resource Groups: Currently, SJI has four Employee Resources Groups that serve to further engage its workforce. These include: The South Jersey Chapter of the American Association of Blacks in Energy (SJAABE), the Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI), the Veteran’s Engagement Team (VETS) and Emerging Leaders. Employee Resource Groups play a critical role in driving employee engagement, fostering an inclusive and collaborative workplace, developing employees, broadening community partnerships and attracting diverse talent to join SJI.
  • Diversity Council: In 2020, SJI launched the Diversity Council, a cross-disciplinary committee of a diverse representation of key leaders charged with providing strategic guidance to the company around corporate D&I priorities, including talent, community partnership and supplier diversity. The Diversity Council serves as an essential instrument in building and expanding upon SJI’s D&I Strategy, regularly reporting to senior leadership on innovative ways to foster inclusion.  
  • Listening Sessions: SJI introduced listening sessions in 2020 to increase awareness and gather ideas to strengthen the company’s culture of inclusion. In addition to enabling employees from various backgrounds to share their perspectives about inclusion and belonging at SJI, listening sessions also provided members of the Diversity Council and senior management an opportunity to learn about perceived gaps and opportunities at SJI related to D&I.
  • Supplier Diversity Program: SJI recognizes the importance of supplier diversity as part of the sourcing process in order to provide opportunities for diverse businesses to participate as partners in the acquisition of goods and services. SJI’s Supplier Diversity Program expands upon relationships with women, minority, veteran, service-disabled veteran and LGBTQ-owned businesses that provide competitive prices and services. In 2020 alone, SJI purchased approximately $86 million in materials from diverse business owners and suppliers. 

As a testament to SJI’s efforts in this key area of strategic importance, several organizations recognized its employees in 2021 for their own commitment to D&I. Shawn Abner Purnell, VP, Diversity, Inclusion and Engagement, SJI, and Sunita Holzer, Board Director, SJI, were named to ROI-NJ’s “Influencers: People of Color 2021 – Difference Makers” list. David Vinokurov, Senior Customer Operations Specialist, South Jersey Gas, was also named the recipient of the Nuestro Amigo/a Award by Stockton University’s Unidos organization and the Hispanic Association of Atlantic County. In addition, Will Smith, VP, Shared Services, SJI, was recently appointed to the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey’s Board of Directors.

Furthermore, in recognition of Black History Month, SJI in partnership with SJAABE will hold a panel discussion featuring diverse leaders throughout New Jersey. This year, SJAABE’s panel will focus on leadership and development through the lens of an intergenerational group of panelists. More information on this event and SJI’s highlights of D&I efforts will be found on social media through LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

For more information about SJI and its subsidiaries, please visit

About SJI

SJI (NYSE: SJI), an energy services holding company based in Folsom, NJ, delivers energy services to its customers through three primary subsidiaries. SJI Utilities, SJI’s regulated natural gas utility business, delivers safe, reliable, affordable natural gas to approximately 700,000 South Jersey Gas and Elizabethtown Gas customers in New Jersey. SJI’s non-utility businesses within South Jersey Energy Solutions promote efficiency, clean technology and renewable energy by providing customized wholesale commodity marketing and fuel management services; and developing, owning and operating on-site energy production facilities. SJI Midstream houses the company’s interest in the PennEast Pipeline Project. For more information about SJI and its subsidiaries, please visit



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