Welcome to the Pipeline!
Welcome to the latest edition of American Water's the Pipeline, a quarterly resource for all things water. We see this as one more way to stay connected.
Recognizing and Celebrating Inclusion & Diversity
In recognition of Diversity Awareness Month, we’ve dedicated this edition of the Pipeline to Inclusion and Diversity. The first few months of 2021 have given us much to reflect upon in the space of inclusion and diversity. February, March, and April have been designated as months of commemoration and hope – reminding us to recognize, celebrate, and embrace our differences and our common humanity.
During Black History Month, we took the opportunity to speak with some of our African American leaders to learn and discuss what it means to be a leader and how each, in their respective roles, further enhances inclusion and diversity at American Water and throughout the water sector. While observing Women’s History Month in March, American Water honored the accomplishments of our female employees from across the business and other women that have shattered glass ceilings and impacted the world. These efforts have shaped American Water, resulting in countless leadership opportunities for women. Most recently, Cheryl Norton, former President of New Jersey American Water, was promoted to Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) for American Water.
Now, in April, we celebrate Diversity Awareness Month, a time designated to honor and celebrate our differences and recognize our commonalities. It is through this reflection that we develop a more holistic and profound understanding of one another. The recent events in Atlanta and occurrences of race-based violence highlights the challenges America continues to face in addressing systemic inequities and racial discrimination. These events demonstrate the importance of creating an environment that is more inclusive of diverse cultures, groups, and perspectives. In response to this tragedy, American Water publicly stood in support of the Asian-American community.
We are stronger because we have different ideas, viewpoints, experiences, and backgrounds. To borrow a phrase from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., "It is only when we rise above the narrow confines of our individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity that we truly start to live." So, let us live, let us commit to allyship and to working together to make a more just and equitable future. We are all in this together.
Welcome External Affairs and Inclusion & Diversity Team
As the company's Chief Inclusion & Diversity Officer and Vice President of External Affairs, I am proud to announce the expansion of American Water’s External Affairs and Inclusion & Diversity team. The team works tirelessly to reflect, promote and support American Water’s commitment to greater inclusion and diversity. Team members include:
Inclusion & Diversity
Nicole Boyd is American Water’s director of Inclusion & Diversity. In her new role, Nicole partners on the company’s overall strategic inclusion and diversity efforts, supports American Water’s Inclusion & Diversity Advisory Council and leads the employee business resource groups. Nicole joined American Water in 2010 and most recently held the position of Senior Specialist in the Business Services Division. Nicole brings a business perspective to the company's Inclusion & Diversity team. Prior to her new role, Nicole volunteered as Indiana American Water’s I&D Champion and led local Inclusion & Diversity activities. She earned her bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Marian University in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Tonja Wicks is American Water’s director of National Regulatory Affairs. In this role, Tonja facilitates implementation of the company’s national regulatory affairs strategic vision. She also serves as a liaison with external stakeholders such as NARUC and NASUCA. Prior to joining American Water, Tonja held several executive positions in the electric utility industry, most recently developing regulatory strategies and managing the Federal and Regional Affairs for Duquesne Light Company. Tonja is a former Board Member and National Chair of the Supplier Diversity and Entrepreneur Committee of the American Association of Blacks in Energy. She has received a Master’s in Public Policy/ Administration and Government from Howard University, where she also received her undergraduate degree and currently is pursuing a Master’s in Business Administration from American University.
Caroline Gray is American Water’s government and regulatory affairs specialist. In this role, Caroline supports a range of government and I&D focused advocacy efforts, key projects and initiatives. Caroline also serves as secretary for the American Water Charitable Foundation. Prior to joining American Water, Caroline worked as a project manager with Cooper’s Ferry Partnership, a private non-profit corporation dedicated to revitalizing Camden New Jersey, where she worked to leverage the legislative process to enhance road safety and improve air quality within its communities. Caroline has a Master’s in Public Administration from Rutgers University, where she also received her undergraduate degree.
American Water's 2020 Inclusion & Diversity Report
American Water recently published its first annual 2020 Inclusion & Diversity Report. This report, reflecting how deeply entwined inclusion and diversity are within the fabric of American Water, highlights the company’s many successes on the I&D front and provides an honest assessment of the company’s opportunities for improvement.
As an overview:
- Overall, 44% of our workforce is made up of women and/or racially diverse.
- To date, 65% of our external workforce is diverse.
- More than half – 51.5% – of new hires and rehires and 58.9% of transfers and promotions are of diverse candidates.
- 45% of our Board of Directors are female, while 40% of our professionals and 36% of our executives are women.
- 9% of American Water’s senior managers are Black or African American, 7% are Hispanic/Latino, 2% are Asian Pacific Islander, and 15% identify as another demographic.
Allyship at American Water
Allyship: At American Water, we define allyship as the act of leveraging positions of influence or privilege to support or advocate for others with less influence or status, as well as building and supporting inclusive environments to advance members of underrepresented groups.
We are proud to have launched our first two Employee Business Resource Groups (“EBRGs”), the Black/African American EBRG and the Women’s EBRG. EBRGs are voluntary, employee-led networks designed to serve identified employee groups with a goal of creating a more inclusive and diverse workplace, as well as giving us a better understanding of our diverse communities we serve. Each EBRG has their own mission statement, but both groups will provide an environment where every voice matter, empower employees to bring their authentic best selves to work while supporting personal and professional development with a focus on career, culture and community.
Recent & Upcoming Events
American Water hosts I&D Podcast with Earvin “Magic” Johnson
On April 6, American Water hosted an I&D-focused podcast featuring business leader and NBA legend Earvin "Magic" Johnson. American Water CEO Walter Lynch and Johnson sat down to discuss challenges Johnson faced while transitioning out of the NBA, his successful entrepreneurship and advocacy for diversity.
2021 Public Utility Law Conference
On April 16, American Water participated on a diversity-focused panel for the New Jersey State Bar Association’s 2021 Public Utility Law Conference. The webinar highlighted updates to and noted the Energy Master Plan and Wind Energy federal policy and featured the diversity panel that was moderated by Upendra Chivukula, Commissioner on the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities.
NAWC SE Chapter Webinar on Diversity and Inclusion
The National Association of Water Companies’ Southeast Chapter will hold a Webinar focused on the issue of Diversity & Inclusion April 28. Chair Charlotte Mitchell of the North Carolina Utilities Commission will moderate the session, which will include American Water’s Valoria Armstrong, along with several other industry experts.
Annual EEI Business Diversity Virtual Conference
On May 19, Valoria Armstrong is scheduled to present at the Edison Electric Institute’s (EEI) 37th Business Diversity Virtual Conference to discuss American Water’s culture of inclusion and diversity by providing examples of the company's I&D centered efforts including employee education and engagement.
Did you know?
A Resource for You
American Water wants to be a resource of information for you. Through active outreach and engagement with a variety of stakeholders American Water has taken part in a great exchange of ideas, issues and insights about the challenges that communities face during this current health emergency, as well as what opportunities possibly lie ahead. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us on any water or wastewater topic.
- Chief Diversity Officers Today: Paving the Way for Diversity & Inclusion Success – Among other things, this survey of over 500 senior-level I&D professionals found that “two-thirds of executives in Well-Aligned D&I functions (66%) strongly agree that D&I is an important driver of company financial performance, a rate significantly higher than that of executives in Aligned D&I functions (27%) and Misaligned D&I functions (12%).”
- Diversity Confirmed To Boost Innovation And Financial Results – This article highlights how diverse and inclusive cultures provide companies with a competitive edge, and that “Smart leaders know that their companies benefit from attracting, developing and retaining a diverse workforce.”
- 4 Ways Diversity Is Directly Linked to Profitability – This piece discusses the benefits of diversity related to innovation, customer satisfaction, and customer and investor interest.
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Let us introduce you to Water Street, American Water's blog, a go-to resource for your favorite natural resource: water. Check out our most recent blogs:
- American Water Focused on Inclusion and Diversity (I&D), from the Top Down and Coast to Coast
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