Since the early 2010s, HRWC has been advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) internally while also taking incremental steps to advance DEI in the community. These efforts have been largely self-resourced and initiative-based, serving as responses to internally-identified shortcomings and biases. Reflecting the diversity of the watershed in operations, programs and policies is instrumental in HRWC’s ability to fulfill its mission of protecting and restoring the river for healthy and vibrant communities. HRWC has formed a DEI Committee, led all-staff trainings on race and equity, performed equity analyses of marketing materials, improved field safety procedures, and updated internal policies to promote inclusion. HRWC is committed to doing more to advance DEI with better strategies and financial resources.
With a recently awarded $117,000 grant from the Erb Family Foundation, HRWC is spearheading work to advance organizational capacity on DEI in collaboration with the other watershed groups of Southeast Michigan. Collectively, HRWC and its partners, the Clinton River Watershed Council, the Friends of the Detroit River, the Friend of the Rouge, and the River Raisin Watershed Council, will work with a consultant over the next ten months to examine and strategize on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Through this grant, the organizations aim to build core values of anti-racism, justice diversity, equity, and inclusion in their policies, operations, and programs.
With guidance and expertise from the consultant, the five organizations and their staff will be led through a series of trainings to increase understanding of DEI issues and learn actionable solutions. Furthermore, HRWC, CRWC, and FOTR will be audited by the consultant to identify progress towards and areas of improvement on DEI. The audits will serve as roadmaps for each group’s future work in this realm.
HRWC recognizes this effort is only the first step towards an equitable watershed community. We will continue taking steps to learn about, advocate for, and advance anti-racism, diversity, equity, and inclusion in our organization to prioritize these values in our work.