Overview and details of the sessions of this conference. Please select a date or location to show only sessions at that day or location. Please select a single session for detailed view (with abstracts and downloads if available).
Be the Catalyst: How Individuals Can Shape an Organization and Transform the Water Workforce
Shelby Smith, Vicky Hollingsworth
Brown & Caldwell, United States of America; ,
The water industry is undergoing a significant cultural transformation in response to social equity challenges and a rapidly evolving workforce. The future workforce has different priorities, backgrounds, and drivers from that of the past and present. Workforce retention challenges emerge due to organizational cultures where employees feel unsupported, disconnected, and inauthentic. Companies that do not evolve to foster inclusive work environments are less competitive and innovative, struggle with recruiting and retaining talent, and ultimately face obsolescence in the water industry. But individual actions at all organizational levels can break down barriers to inclusion and build more desirable work environments.
In 2018, Brown and Caldwell (BC) employees sought to create a more inclusive, open, and diverse work environment that provided them with a space to connect, be authentic, find community, and learn. Out of this movement, employees formed the Women at BC Employee Network Group (ENG), which created an inclusive and safe space for women to share their stories. This first ENG sparked broader conversations around diversity, equity, and inclusion. New ENGs quickly followed – each centered around different BC employee experiences and challenges. BC leadership listened and advocated based on these conversations. The company established the 10 Commitments to Balance and Belonging, which set the long-term plan to transform, operationalize equity into business and hiring practices, and challenged the organization to go beyond current industry limitations.
This presentation will dive into the story behind some of the individuals who became the spark that accelerated a cultural transformation in the workplace. Organizations that create space and establish platforms for employees to be authentic and vulnerable will drive allyship, diversity, and inclusion. These key ingredients create resilient organizations where employees can thrive, innovate, and better serve their communities.
2:00pm - 2:45pm
Sharing Your Privilege – the Criticality of Advocacy in Diversifying the Pacific Northwest Water Industry
Leeway Engineering, United States of America;
The face of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) movement here in the PNW has largely been women and people of color, and rightfully so in many cases. But this can and has led to cases of fatigue, frustration, and even challenging accusations such as “self-promotion”.
As the topic of diversity has become more prominent and as the numbers are starting to be documented about the genuine benefits of diversity, a challenge that has become evident is the critical role that must be played by those who have privilege and the power to enact change.
This session will begin with an introduction of the importance and benefits of diversity and a brief introduction to the ways that PNCWA, as a volunteer organization, is taking steps to advance Racial and Social Justice. The remainder of the time will be given to a panel discussion by advocates in the industry and representatives from several municipalities including the City of Boise, the City of Portland, King County, and Seattle Public Utilities. This panel will provide numerous viewpoints regarding privilege and how anyone, regardless of gender, ethnicity, or orientation, has an important role to play in progressing our industry for positive change.