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(Special to the American Press)

(Special to the American Press)

Diversity conference set for Oct. 4

Last Modified: Thursday, September 12, 2013 10:22 AM

By Frank DiCesare / American Press

As Southwest Louisiana prepares for an unprecedented number of energy-related jobs in the next five years, one group wants to ensure that diversity is not overlooked when the hiring begins.

The American Energy Diversity Group will hold its 2013 Ethnic Diversity Conference on Energy on Oct. 4 and 5 at the Isle of Capri Casino Hotel in Westlake. The conference will run 9 a.m.-9 p.m. each day and will feature workshops, exhibits and talks on improving workforce diversity in the energy sector throughout Louisiana and Texas.

“There’s been a slow hiring process of African-Americans and other ethnic groups in the energy sector,” said Glenn Heckard, president of AEDG, a Monroe-based organization. “A lot of the ethnic groups do not have the opportunity to participate in a lot of major projects.”

Heckard said the conference will bring energy executives and elected officials together to discuss workplace diversity and the barriers that lead to job discrimination. The conference, he added, will also focus on holding federal lawmakers accountable for fair hiring practices.

“We would like to see the senate and congressional energy commissions in Washington, who approve billions of dollars of new projects every year for plant expansions and pipelines, to have a nondiscriminatory hiring policy attached,” he said.

Conference attendees will learn how to write to their congressmen and senators about achieving diversity in the workplace, Heckard said.

The conference will also feature discussions on the pros and cons of the Keystone XL pipeline, the effects of onshore and offshore oil spills, hazardous-waste removal and storage, and the proper closure of abandoned well sites.

“I find it ironic that in the ethnic community a lot of people don’t have a clue about the Keystone pipeline; they don’t have a clue about the BP oil spill,” Heckard said. “This conference will also be a great opportunity for a lot of people to learn about the energy sector.”

Former Gov. Edwin Edwards will give the conference’s annual banquet address on Saturday night.

The conference registration fee is $150, which includes entrance to all of the workshops and the Friday night reception. Tickets for the Saturday banquet are $50. To register, visit www.americanenergydiversitygroup.com.

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