The California Department of Water Resources, along with a dedicated task force within the department guided by the Capitol Collaborative on Race and Equity program crafted a comprehensive and sustainable Racial Equity Action Plan aimed at advancing an honest and critical assessment of its work and identify racial inequities that exist within its programs, policies, and institutional culture. This Racial Equity Action plan was released in June 2022.
DWR is committed to supporting the sustainable management of water resources for all Californians. But it is clear that not all Californians have been afforded the necessary protections against health and environmental hazards, climate change, floods, or droughts. What is also clear is that a diverse and equitable workforce that represents California’s population will benefit greatly to help overcome water challenges in our future.
“As part of our growing commitment to equity, the Racial Equity Action Plan is a vital tool for DWR to move forward on a transparent assessment of state policies, programs, and projects,” said Director Karla Nemeth. “It is critical that our workforce represents the population that we serve. Attracting, supporting, and retaining employees with diverse experiences are more critical than ever as we rise to the challenge of creating a resilient water system that serves all communities for generations to come.”
Since 2020, DWR has taken several steps in advancing justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace. Actions include issuing a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) statement, adopting a Human Right to Water Policy, launching DEI learning curriculum, and adopting new recruitment and hiring policies.
DWR is committed to ensuring equity of its programs and services through inclusive outreach and engagement with the state’s diverse population. The plan will advance DWR’s Racial Equity Vision that all people in California are healthy, financially stable, and safe. This vision inspired the strategies contained in the plan and conveys an ideal state of being that DWR wants all Californians to experience.
The plan outlines three desired outcomes that include:
- Workforce is Reflective of the People of California – It is critical that DWR’s workforce represents the population that it serves as it rises to the challenge of creating a resilient water system that serves all communities for generations to come.
- Improve Community Engagement with Communities Most Impacted by Structural Racism - By moving from an “inform” approach to a community-led approach, it will allow DWR to improve sharing the ownership of projects.
- Embed Racial Equity into Our Projects and Programs – Staff at all levels will apply a racial equity lens to the planning, programming, and implementing of projects.
The plan, which serves as the foundation for the work to be achieved, sets the intentional and continual practice of changing policies, practices, systems, and structures that create meaningful change in the lives of all Californians. This inaugural plan is a living document that will expand as DWR furthers its efforts through the strategies mentioned in the Plan.
The plan will allow DWR to better embed racial equity into the Department’s culture, and practice intentional inclusion throughout the organization at all levels to work towards a sustainable right