Measuring the Baseline Level of Cultural Humility at a Rural Electric Cooperative

Date of Award


Degree Name

Ed.D. in Leadership for Organizations


Department of Educational Administration


Elizabeth Essex


Rural electric cooperatives provide electric service to 42 million people across more than 2,500 counties, including 92% of persistent poverty counties in the United States. However, available information on the gender, racial, and ethnic representation within electric cooperatives and their governing bodies suggests a significant lack of diversity. Although limited, research on the topic of cultural humility training as a method of preparing cooperative employees to embrace a more diverse workforce suggests that rural electric cooperatives could leverage cultural humility concepts to position themselves to increase diversity sustainably. A cultural humility survey and a focus group interview were deployed to measure the baseline level of cultural humility at a rural electric generation and transmission cooperative in the mid-western United States. An action plan was developed that includes providing cultural humility training to the control group and a follow-up survey to all participants to measure the efficacy of the training. The results of the baseline survey and focus group interview indicate an openness to learning about cultural topics and a reticence toward increasing diversity as a matter of necessity. These results suggest a general lack of cultural humility coupled with an openness to learning and curiosity that positions the cooperative well for training in cultural humility. The term "cultural humility" has become widely used in healthcare settings and in training; however, this is a concept that can be difficult to understand fully, and there is even less guidance on the intricacies of teaching this concept. There have been a few published works focusing on the teaching of cultural humility. However most of these publications focus on a theoretical rather than an empirical standpoint. The cooperative utility industry, as well as many other industries outside of healthcare, can leverage this study to inform their own pursuit of cultural humility and efforts to increase diversity.


Energy, Management, Cultural Humility, Rural Electric Cooperatives, Diversity

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