Fueling Equity debut webcast series

Webcast with media trailblazer Wonya Lucas Launches first episode of ‘Fueling Equity’ series

Southern Company Gas continues to demonstrate its industry leadership and commitment to address important social justice issues through its diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.

The company is amplifying that focus through Fueling Equity. The effort includes a new webcast series featuring interviews with social justice trailblazers aimed at highlighting, educating and communicating Southern Company Gas’ important work to foster an equitable environment for its employees, customers and communities.

In its first webcast installment — and in honor of Black History Month and upcoming Women’s History Month — CEO Kim Greene spoke with Wonya Lucas, president and CEO of Crown Media Family Networks, which oversees the Hallmark Channel, among others. Before taking over as president and CEO in 2020, Wonya ran the Public Broadcasting Atlanta stations, served as CEO of cable network TV One and has held many other media positions, including at The Weather Channel.

The inspiring discussion covered topics like facing adversity as a woman of color, the power of strong role models, the importance of community, balancing family and work, standing up for what’s right, challenging and changing social norms and hope for the future.

Perspectives on recent events and progress

The conversation shifted to recent events, specifically the killing of George Floyd in the summer of 2020 and the response that followed. “Growing up in Atlanta during the civil rights movement, it’s like, ‘I’ve seen this before.’ It was triggering to some extent,” Lucas said.

She went on to describe her own recent experiences and the transformation she’s seen within her own community. “Two years ago, I was walking in my neighborhood in Buckhead — I’ve lived there 20 years — and someone called security on me. I remember that fear, just someone being fearful of me. What will they do to me?”

Then, in response to George Floyd’s killing, the kids and parents in her neighborhood began organizing a protest march. “My youngest daughter said ‘Mom, we have to participate. We have to go.’ So that’s how far we’ve come in two years — being racially profiled to walking among neighbors to the Governor’s mansion, standing and kneeling in silence. I’ve never been more proud of my community and my daughter.”

Wonya Lucas as a child with her uncle, Hank Aaron.

Lucas' role as leader and advice to Southern Company Gas employees

Lucas then discussed her new role and her ongoing efforts to promote diversity at the Hallmark Channel, where previous content had not featured significant racial and sexual diversity.

“I approached it as a brand person. I looked at the Hallmark Cards brand,” Lucas said. “You see a section for the LGBTQ community, you see Mahogany, a 30-year-old brand targeted at African-American women. You see Tree of Life for the Jewish community and DaySpring for the Christian community, you see Vida for the Hispanic and Latinx communities. Hallmark has been diverse and representative for many years. My job as a brand builder is to capture the breadth and depth of that brand.”

She elaborated that this doesn’t mean we’ll be seeing “Vida” or “Tree of Life” versions of the Hallmark Channel, but instead that the Hallmark Channel will strive to be diverse in an authentic way. “We are a storytelling brand, so we will tell the stories of many different people and cultures, again in a way that moves beyond representation to cultural relevance.”

When Greene asked for advice for providing equitable opportunities in the workplace as a leader, Lucas’ response was stark and simple. “Start by coming with an open heart and an open mind. It really does start there,” Lucas said. “The second thing: educate yourself. I remember my boss was reading White Fragility and Caste. Then he and his senior team had conversations which trickle into the organization. Infuse it. Make it a natural part of the organization.”

Lucas reinforced one more important concept, to be an ally. “Beyond educating yourself, represent [people of color] in places where they are not because you truly know them, see them and know who they are. Speak from knowledge versus theory.”

The discussion ended with Greene asking Lucas to talk about balancing her career with spending time raising her daughters. Again, Lucas’ advice was concise.

“Be organized, get help, give yourself grace, no matter what – if you’re a mother, you won’t do it all right. And choose your boss wisely,” Lucas said.

“I’ve always worked for family-friendly bosses. I ask them what part they play in their family and what family meant for them. I wanted them to understand that I will work very, very hard, but that I also want to be very present.”

Keep an eye out for future episodes of the Fueling Equity webcast series, as Southern Company Gas continues to promote equity not just in the workplace, but in our communities as well.