Our nation’s collective failure to recognize the systemic and institutional racism in the United States is unacceptable. The Covid-19 pandemic has only compounded and revealed the vast inequities so many of our fellow citizens face. The onus is on us as stewards of our community and our environment to combat these injustices.
We do not claim to know how to completely reverse the centuries of trauma caused by racism in America, but we do know that our words alone will never be enough. We need to do the work—to listen to our colleagues and neighbors of color, to reflect on our own privilege and positionality within our society and our institution, to engage in these difficult conversations.
At the Water Center, we are committed to making our communities and institutions more diverse, equitable, and inclusive places to live, work, learn, play, and prosper—for our generation and for generations to come.
We take the following statements seriously. We will continue to work in earnest to fulfill these pledges every day through our words, actions and deeds. If you share our commitment to confront racial inequities in your work, please join us and help us move toward a more just, fair and equitable society together.
These are fundamental tenets of our business plan, team composition, group training and development, and workplace culture. We work to embody these values in our external activities with various communities, stakeholders, colleagues, students, and faculty.
We continue to work toward making our urban rivers and streams fishable, swimmable, drinkable, safe, attractive, and accessible to communities that have not historically had access to water resources due to race, income, or other disadvantages.
We continue the fight to secure drinking water as a human right. All communities need water that is accessible, affordable, healthy, and safe, particularly vulnerable communities where lack of safe affordable drinking water exacerbates other injustices.
Equity and fairness will serve as the foundation of our work as we tackle issues such as climate change, urban flooding, basement back-ups, sewage overflows, lead pipe replacement, infrastructure funding, and the clean-up of hazardous sites.
We recognize the historical and systemic roots of racism and understand its connections to our current day urban water system challenges.
We respect our communities, their lived experiences, and their priorities while working to address inequities in education, crime, poverty, health, and housing through the Water Center’s lens of urban resilience, sustainability, and—above all else—water.
We foster and help grow diversity in the professional water sector so that the next generation of water/wastewater utility leaders better reflects, understands and supports the populations they serve and leadership in the water sector as a whole is more diverse, inclusive and understanding of the soft skills needed to manage large-scale change.
We expose long accepted systemic inequities through educational programming accessible to learners of all ages and backgrounds including programs in underserved schools in Philadelphia, programs for adult learners in underprivileged communities, development of a diverse and culturally inclusive water curriculum designed to inspire and mentor the next generation, and programming designed to address these inequities.
We recognize that diversity, equity and inclusion are in fact separate and distinct goals. While we strive to incorporate all three into our planning, work and culture, we feel it is important to define them separately as follows:
We ensure that as broad a cohort of races, religions, ethnicities, incomes, environmental experiences, physical abilities, sexual orientation, and gender is brought together as possible in our organization, planning, and projects.
We ensure that our organization, processes and projects promote equity; impartiality and fairness for all team members, project partners, collaborators, and communities and that our work outcomes deliver equitable outcomes for all.
We ensure collective sharing of a wide range of perspectives, voices, and experiences in our decision-making processes within our organization as well as in our projects in order to create outcomes that provide maximum benefit to all.