Across the science, technology, engineering, and math sector, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) make up only 33 percent of the workforce. This industry statistic is in part what prompted Woodard & Curran to form its diversity and inclusion program nearly 10 years ago. While incremental organizational changes have been made, focusing on diversity and inclusion was not having the impact we wanted. The missing and arguably most critical piece to upholding our people first value was equity.
Race Forward defines equity as “a process of eliminating racial disparities and improving outcomes for everyone. It is the intentional and continual practice of changing policies, practices, systems, and structures by prioritizing measurable change in the lives of people of color.” Since I assumed the role of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Manager in 2020, I have worked in concert with leadership at Woodard & Curran to dive deeper into this work, especially in terms of racial equity. It became apparent to leadership that we needed to develop a shared understanding of what racial equity means and how it applies to the work we do.
We made a commitment to racial equity as a firm and started with education. The racial equity training we have since embarked on in partnership with Hackman Consulting Group was the focus of a recent panel discussion during the New England Water Environment Association (NEWEA) Annual Conference in Boston, Massachusetts. I was joined by my colleagues Julia Wahl, Engineer, Sue Guswa, National Wastewater Practice Leader, and Jay Sheehan, Operations & Management Business Development Leader, who shared their thoughts on the training, our effort to incorporate a racial equity lens in our work and daily interactions, and the way racial inequities impact our industry.