Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

Published Sep 15, 2021

Food & Water Watch (FWW) / Food & Water Action (FWA)

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) Implementation Plan

Effective 9/15/21

From our founding, justice and equity have been at the heart of FWW/FWA’s campaigns, organization, and worldview. Our early initiatives on water centered on fighting privatization in major cities and across the global south. We’ve battled factory farms that poison rural communities and fought oil and gas drilling and infrastructure that disproportionately impact low-income communities and communities of color. And we’ve supported and elevated grassroots partners across the country.

We know that to win our signature campaigns and overcome the large corporate interests we oppose, we need to build a powerful and diverse movement in key congressional districts (which have unique dynamics and are impacted by our issues differently). We also know that corporate interests want to divide us — to pit poor, working, and middle-class people against each other and exploit differences to maintain power. We must combat these attempts at division and build a unified, powerful movement for progressive change. That means fully embracing our core values of justice, human dignity, fair treatment, and equity. Accordingly, we are committed to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) within our organization, as well as with our external supporters and partners. This is what DEI means to us:

Diversity includes all the ways in which people differ, encompassing the different characteristics that make one individual or group different from another. While diversity is often used in reference to race, ethnicity, and gender, we embrace a broader definition of diversity that also includes race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, disability, or class, education, marital status, language, and physical appearance. Our definition also includes diversity of thought: ideas, perspectives, and values. We also recognize that individuals affiliate with multiple identities.

Equity is the fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all people, while at the same time striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of some groups. Improving equity involves increasing justice and fairness within the procedures and processes of institutions or systems, as well as in their distribution of resources. Tackling equity issues requires an understanding of the root causes of outcome disparities within our society. Equity sets up a beneficial environment for both the employees and the employer.

Inclusion is the act of creating environments in which any individual or group can be and feel welcomed, respected, supported, and valued to fully participate. An inclusive and welcoming climate embraces differences and offers respect in words and actions for all people. It’s important to note that while an inclusive group is, by definition, diverse, a diverse group isn’t always inclusive. Increasingly, recognition of unconscious or implicit bias helps organizations to be deliberate about addressing issues of inclusivity.

While FWW/FWA has always been committed to these principles, a sustained commitment requires continuous learning and concrete steps. To that end, this plan provides specific and measurable goals to support our work, strengthen community partners, and build a stronger organization.

FWW/FWA leaders are committed to DEI. All managers will help implement our DEI goals. We will ensure that a commitment to DEI is reflected throughout the organization.
Diversity in our staffing at all levels is critical to building our organization and winning our signature campaigns. FWW/FWA has undertaken intermittent efforts to increase staff diversity over the past several years; we have a long way to go to achieve greater diversity. To this end, we will work to intentionally seek out and retain a pipeline of diverse and qualified candidates with relevant and meaningful experience, skills, and talents.
FWW/FWA strives to create an environment where all people (including our staff, our members, our allies, and all the communities we serve) feel valued and appreciated. To that end, we are committed to providing a variety of resources.
FWW/FWA prioritizes work on our signature campaigns and selects targets to build power to win campaigns. With our focus on stopping fracking and fossil fuel projects, factory farms, and water privatization, which all disproportionately impact low-income communities and communities of color, we often engage in directly impacted communities. Our advocacy for fully funding water infrastructure and stopping water shutoffs also benefits these communities. There have been historic issues with national organizations “swooping in,” driving narratives, and attempting to take credit for work led by local community members. We oppose this orientation. As a national organization, we need to help develop, support, and elevate local community-led organizations. While we don’t only work in communities directly impacted by our issues (legislative targets are determined by many factors), we will always seek to engage local leaders. To defeat powerful interests, we need to work with a multitude of grassroots allies who are powerful in their communities. Therefore, it’s critical that when we enter and work with communities, we respect the knowledge of community leaders, support their efforts, and work to strengthen their organizations. Our aim is to find alignment with communities and leave them and our partners stronger than when we arrived, with lasting long-term partnerships and relationships. Across all our externally facing teams, we will seek to develop and support local partners as we build campaigns and our organization.
Our internal and external communications should reflect our values and DEI principles.
FWW/FWA is part of a broader progressive movement. Our fights for clean water, safe food, and a livable climate are intertwined with other justice-based efforts. While we remain focused on our signature campaigns, we will support other aligned campaigns when appropriate in solidarity and recognition of the shared and connected nature of these efforts.

The goals of this plan are interrelated, each with specific initiatives and action steps. Many of these goals have been ongoing for years while others are new; they are all works in progress. By laying them out here, this plan ensures transparency and accountability around the implementation of our DEI goals on an ongoing basis.