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 which 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

For Food & Water Watch, diversity encompasses the different characteristics that make an individual or group different from another. These differences have historically been used to marginalize, divide, and oppress people and communities. Food & Water Watch recognizes that differences are a source of strength, and that we have an important role to play in confronting and challenging oppression of all kinds. We embrace a broad definition of diversity that includes race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, disability, class, education, family or marital status, language, and physical appearance. We have a set of core values that inform our policy goals, and expect staff to generally share those values and goals. However, we recognize that within those values, individuals (staff and non-staff) have a range of ideas and perspectives that strengthen our organization, and which we welcome. 

Equity

The process of achieving equity begins with the honest acknowledgment of the specific living structural and systemic barriers faced by BIPOC, LGBTQI+, working class and low-income communities, and other marginalized groups. At Food & Water Watch, we recognize that some groups are purposefully and actively denied fair treatment, access, and opportunity in the world we operate in.

To strive toward an equitable workplace, we work to institute procedures and systems that promote justice and empowerment and result in proportional and appropriate resource distribution, including for staff pay. This work also includes assessing our internal systems and structures so we can work towards building an organization that does not reinforce or replicate the inequities present in today’s society. We understand that the work of breaking down systems of oppression is inseparable from the fight for a livable future. In our campaign work, we strive to center those who have been impacted by environmental racism and otherwise disproportionately impacted by pollution, climate change, and lack of access to essential resources, including frontline, fenceline, and environmental justice communities.

Inclusion

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 climate embraces differences and offers respect in words and actions for everyone who shares our mission and vision. At FWW, we believe that inclusion helps us to do our best work and build a broad movement toward a livable future for all.


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. This plan has interrelated goals, each with specific initiatives and action steps. Many of these steps 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.
Goal 1: LEADERSHIP
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.
Goal 2: DIVERSE RECRUITMENT & HIRING
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.
Goal 3: INCLUSIVE CULTURE
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.
Goal 4: ORGANIZING, ADVOCACY, POLITICAL & LEGAL CAMPAIGNS
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.
Goal 5: COMMUNICATING OUR VALUES
Our internal and external communications should reflect our values and DEI principles.
Goal 6: SOLIDARITY WORK
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.