Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice
The Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE) Board of Directors, staff, and members believe that access to safe, reliable, and affordable water is a human right. Water efficiency helps meet this objective by using water resources more sustainably and reducing customer water expenses while also preserving the environment. Water efficiency plays role in achieving water equity* everywhere.
On the journey to achieving Diversity*, Equity*, Inclusion*, and Justice* (DEIJ), AWE commits to further integrating these values into our organization’s fabric. Doing so is key to achieving our mission of a sustainable, accessible, and affordable water future. In addition, as a member-based organization, AWE strives to help our members realize opportunities to integrate DEIJ into their efforts.
AWE defines DEIJ as “the efforts, behaviors, actions, and policies that enhance the participation and meet the unmet needs of groups who have been historically excluded from participating in systems along the lines of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and socioeconomic status.”
We are committed to DEIJ because we believe in achieving sustainable, affordable water for all. Further integrating DEIJ into our work will help us see and appreciate the direct connection between our work and improve its value to the diverse communities we serve.
AWE’s culture prioritizes listening and building relationships with members and partners to create collaborative solutions. We strive to make space for different perspectives and voices, which we believe results in robust sustainable solutions, and products that represent the needs of the communities and members we serve. Thus, we need to constantly evaluate who is -- and should be -- a part of these critical conversations and decision-making processes, and make a sincere effort to make space for everyone to be heard.
We believe that DEIJ efforts are successful only when there is strong, consistent, and vocal support from leadership. AWE’s leadership supports efforts to prioritize DEIJ and created space for these conversations within the organization. Centering DEIJ values in the organization allows us to seek and incorporate the most underrepresented voices in society. We want these voices included at every level of our work. In addition, we will use our strengths in engaging with our members and partners to create professional opportunities that include more underrepresented voices in the water efficiency sector.
For AWE and the issue of water efficiency and conservation to stay relevant, we have to intentionally reach out and include a broader demographic of individuals. Waiting for diversity to come to us is not an optimal strategy to enhance DEIJ. Thus, we believe in proactively building partnerships with institutions that serve underrepresented communities.
Furthermore, we realize that just having diversity is not enough. We also have to retain diversity by creating an inclusive culture where everyone feels seen, heard, and celebrated. AWE strives to create safe avenues for open dialogue and a work environment where minoritized individuals feel there is an opportunity for professional development and freedom to constructively express disagreements and discomfort with reflection and learning.
We know that there will be varying difficulties in implementing strategies to center DEIJ values. We expect and welcome the productive tension. Changing beliefs, practices, behaviors, and attitudes cannot happen overnight. But we are committed to being on a persistent path toward creating change. To achieve our goals, AWE commits to embracing transparency and humility on this journey and acknowledging when we make mistakes.
*What we mean when we say...
Representation across multiple aspects of identity (age, gender, ability, race, sexual orientation, religion, etc.). Diversity as a framework requires creating access for underrepresented individuals in traditionally homogenous spaces.
A measure of just and fair treatment, opportunities, and outcomes across race, gender, class, and other identities, which creates a condition where everyone has the ability to participate and prosper with equal outcomes and without marginalization due to their identities and past structural harms. Equity recognizes each person has different circumstances and needs, and different groups of people need different resources and opportunities allocated to them in order to thrive and achieve equity.
Creating a welcoming environment for people who have traditionally been underrepresented. Inclusion is about reducing barriers to diversity and ensuring equity. Inclusion creates a standard of having an equal voice and equal access to decision-making.
A sense of restitution, fairness, and equitable treatment. Involves identifying obstacles to equity and fairness and creating solutions. Justice work involves getting rid of the root cause of inequity.
Occurs when everyone has access to clean, safe, affordable drinking water and wastewater services; are resilient in the face of floods, drought, and other climate risks; have a role in decision-making processes related to water management in their communities; and share in the economic, social, and environmental benefits of water systems.