Avangrid’s Leadership Reflects on Joining the Worker Financial Wellness Initiative in a Continued Effort to Support Employees

two workers look at solar panels

For Justin Lagasse, CFO of leading sustainable energy company Avangrid, using a stakeholder model for decision making is just as much about driving business outcomes as it is about doing what’s right for customers, workers, the environment, and shareholders.

Despite pushback against Environmental Social and Governance frameworks, or ESG, Lagasse said that applying a broader stakeholder model, where decisions prioritize sustainable business practices, is not purely about compliance, but about driving long-term value.

“What’s really happened on the ESG front is it’s become about disclosures and compliance and I think because of that, it’s dissociated the value attribution that it provides,” Lagasse said at JUST Capital’s 2024 Annual Leadership Summit earlier this month. “We use ESG to drive business and financial outcomes.”

Avangrid ranked highly in JUST Capital’s 2024 Annual Rankings of America’s Most JUST Companies at No. 12 overall and No. 1 in its industry. It earned these designations through a variety of investments, including supporting the career development of its workforce and demonstrating a clear commitment to climate leadership, such as pursuing an aggressive 1.5-degree net zero climate target.

Speaking with JUST Capital President Alison Omens, Lagasse noted that in today’s economic climate, a company’s investment in its workers not only serves as a catalyst for individual prosperity and job satisfaction but also contributes significantly to a business’ resilience and sustainable growth.

On Wednesday, Avangrid announced it was joining The Worker Financial Wellness Initiative, a part of JUST Capital’s corporate leadership network implemented in partnership with PayPal, Financial Health Network, and Good Jobs Institute. Joining the initiative will help Avangrid continue supporting employees’ financial security and health.

JUST Capital’s President Alison Omens recently spoke with Avangrid CFO Justin Lagasse, HPE Board Chairman Patricia Russo, and Accenture’s Stuart Henderson.

Since Avangrid was formed in 2015 by joining multiple utility companies together, its leaders have placed a concerted emphasis on creating a unified corporate culture, where employee well-being is a core tenet. Leveraging data for a more personalized approach to employee benefits is central to their strategy, as they continue to work alongside a cohort of companies dedicated to improving the financial health of workers nationwide.

And while Avangrid continues to invest in improved employee financial well-being, it has already taken substantial steps to drive its employees’ overall well-being, implementing initiatives that focus on work-life balance, career development, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.

  • Offering Personalized Benefits: Avangrid has created a personalized benefits program to support each employee’s physical and financial well-being. In addition to generous paid time off policies, the company also offers flexible scheduling opportunities like hybrid working. Avangrid also offers family-oriented benefits to its employees with children, including paid parental leave, a backup dependent care program and an emergency savings payroll deduction feature. As part of its financial well-being offering, the company provides an automatically enrolled 401k matching program, with a generous 150% employer match for up to at least 6% for both non-union and unionized employees, as well as a “Financial Well-Being Roadmap”, a resource designed to provide employees with training courses on financial management, in person money management events, and personal meetings with financial planners. Avangrid’s efforts have created a benefits program that promotes long-term financial success while offering employees best in class day-to-day rewards.
  • Investing in Workers’ Futures: At Avangrid, creating a skilled workforce and promoting employee talent development is a top priority. That’s why in addition to benefits like tuition assistance and student loan repayment programs, employees receive on-the-job career development training, including skill building courses and leadership programs, averaging 42.5 hours per employee in 2022, well above the Russell 1000 average of 23.8 hours. Additionally, Avangrid also looks to cultivate growth from within by filling roughly a third of its open positions with internal candidates and creating a program known as “Leadership Essentials” which provides courses, online learning, peer groups, and in person training to help new leaders effectively create success for their teams. This culture of employee investment and development is reflected in the company’s high retention rate exceeding 90%.
  • Promoting a Diverse Team: Developing a culture of acceptance and creating a team that is reflective of Avangrid’s diverse customer base is a vital part of the company’s approach to its workforce and a key part of this effort has been the promotion of gender equity within the company. Through its participation in the Paradigm for Parity initiative, Avangrid has demonstrated its dedication to achieving gender parity in leadership by setting an aspirational goal to fill 50% of its senior operating roles with women by 2030 and demonstrating progress by recording a rise in female executives to 35% in 2022 up from 28% in 2021. Among Avangrid’s industry, only 23% of companies take the important step to intentionally prioritize female representation in leadership. Another key part of Avangrid’s DEI strategy has been the promotion of an inclusive workplace culture through the implementation of unconscious bias training programs. Also, the company reinforces its dedication to DEI by publicly sharing detailed data on the demographic composition of its workforce. This commitment to transparency not only showcases Avangrid’s emphasis on DEI but also enables external stakeholders to hold them accountable for progress toward their diversity and inclusion objectives.

By joining the Worker Financial Wellness Initiative, Avangrid looks forward to building upon its investments in its workforce, which will underscore and build on solutions for customers and continue to create value for shareholders.

As Lagasse said at JUST’s Leadership Summit, he’s focused on investments that will build on the company’s success “not only tomorrow, but for the long term.”

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