Idaho National Laboratory’s 4,142 employees work every day to positively change the world’s energy future and secure our nation’s critical infrastructure. To realize this vision, we hire extraordinary people, some of the best and brightest researchers, engineers, technicians and support staff from all corners of the globe.
Competition, however, is fierce and the lab — like many companies in the technology sector — faces the daunting challenge of replacing an aging workforce.
Thirty percent of our workforce is at least 50 years of age. The inevitable baby boomer retirement wave threatens our ability to achieve operational excellence and the scientific breakthroughs needed to combat climate change and ensure national and homeland security.
That’s why INL has been so involved in educating and training the future energy workforce. From supporting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in Idaho to hosting hundreds of interns and partnering with Idaho’s universities at the Center for Advanced Energy Studies, the lab has worked diligently to grow the state’s talent pipeline.
But for INL — and companies across Idaho — to achieve their best requires more than just training, education and experience. It also requires equal opportunity.
At INL, we prioritize the addition of diverse talent to our workforce and capitalize on these different perspectives to improve our organization and overall performance.
Applicants at INL have the assurance that our employment decisions will be made without regard to race, color, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression/identity, national origin or age.
Additionally, there will be no discrimination in employment based on marital status, pregnancy, family responsibilities, genetic information, political affiliation or veteran status.
As INL Director Mark Peters wrote recently in a message to our employees, “At INL, equality and inclusion are bedrock values and key to who we are as an innovative research laboratory helping solve the world’s big energy and national security challenges.”
Everybody has value. All perspectives are needed. Our challenges — in science and technology, business, academia and politics — are great and we will not resolve them unless all are welcomed, valued, heard and empowered.
Moving forward, let all Idahoans celebrate their friends, neighbors and family members. Let us reflect upon the importance of equality and vow to do more, to do better, to give this vital issue the same emphasis we do education and workforce training.
Leveling the playing field by offering everyone equal opportunity to reach their full potential and protection under our laws is the right thing to do. It’s also the smart thing to do.
Twelve Idaho cities, including Boise, have passed anti-discrimination ordinances. Many companies, including INL, offer health insurance plans with definitions of family that include same-sex couples and their children. Equality is no longer just a social issue; it’s an economic issue as well.
INL strongly encourages all entities we collaborate with to embrace equality. We also encourage that those entities request the same from all parties they associate with.
It’s time to get this right. And by doing so, we will all grow stronger by valuing people, their lives and their perspectives.
Juan Alvarez is chief operating officer and deputy director for management and operations at Idaho National Laboratory.