Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
|WASWD is committed to supporting the communities that water and sewer districts serve. Awareness of the diversity in these communities and welcoming these ratepayers and employees is a vital part of the jobs of commissioners and staff, and an important part of supporting member districts. In 2020, the WASWD Board approved a message to members that remains timeless despite the events surrounding it.
All of us have been absorbed by the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, we are faced with a societal crisis now gripping our country exposed by recent racial injustices that have in the past been ignored.
It is possible to focus on providing water and sewer service and remain silent about the issue. Recognizing we have members with various backgrounds and political philosophies, dialogue could stir controversy.
Remaining silent, though, is damaging. It conveys there is nothing unusual or unbearable about the assault and killing of Black children, men and women by White police and neighbors in circumstances that Whites do not face. Is that a message we truly want to convey? Or instead of silence, should we stand to affirm our commitment to racial equity and social justice, and unite around putting those values into practice?
Recent history makes clear that these problems do affect our work. The lead crisis in Flint, Michigan clearly had social and racial components. That community lost its safe water for financial reasons, and those who examined the situation are convinced it happened because the community is poor and Black. The right to clean water and sanitation is essential to the pursuit of health and happiness, and our districts’ reason for existence is to provide those services to everyone in our communities, at prices they can afford. Can we do so without seeing, understanding, and respecting the people who live here?
In this state, we are also serving an increasingly diverse community. Our customers come from a long list of foreign nations, and our employees are increasingly diverse as well: White, Black, Native American, Hispanic, Asian... Showing our awareness of that diversity, welcoming these ratepayers and employees to our services and communities, is a vital part of our jobs, as commissioners and staff, and an important part of building support for our districts.
It is clear that these events—this point in time—are an important passage for our nation. Speaking or remaining silent: both send messages about our values.
As your Board, we have decided to speak in support of the communities we serve, in support of racial equity and social justice. Race and discrimination can be uncomfortable topics. For change to occur, though, we all must step outside of our comfort zones to listen to each other’s perspectives and support each other, especially during this turbulent time. Hopefully, dialogue can spark understanding and begin to create the type of environment and change we want to see in the world, and better reflect the communities we serve.
We encourage you to communicate your support to employees and customers —as an organization, as an industry, and as individuals who live and work here—for racial equity and social justice. Make clear that our services, our employment, and our fellowship are open to everyone of every color, creed, and walk of life.