(MARCH 8, 2022) – It is March, a particularly exciting month, and March 8th, a special day for me and the more than 2,400 women at LADWP. And so on behalf of your all-female Board of Water and Power Commissioners, Happy International Women’s Day and Happy Women’s History Month!
International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month are global periods of celebrating the achievements of women all over the world. This is a time to call, but I’d rather say to demand, accelerating gender parity and women’s equality.
Here at LADWP, it is an especially important time to celebrate the undeniably vital role that women play in LADWP’s history then and now, especially those who were, or are ahead of their time, trailblazers, leaders, and those who broke and continue to break gender bias.
This year’s International Women’s Day theme is Break the Bias. Today, as it has been throughout history, biases both deliberate and unconscious, have and may continue to make it difficult for women to be provided the opportunity, advance in their careers, and get ahead.
While we have made important strides and taken steps to change this in our society and here at LADWP, we need to continue to break the bias. We need to consistently show our commitment to women by uplifting, supporting, and respecting them so much so that having an all-female board is no longer unusual, that the term “women in non-traditional roles” becomes a misnomer, and no one bats an eye at the sight of a female lineworker or heavy-duty truck operator.
Acknowledging that bias exists is not enough. There needs to be important and continuous action to level the playing field, create opportunity, and making room for women at the table.
If you recall in last year’s Women’s History Month celebrations, the General Manager, I and then IBEW Local 18 Business Manager Brian D’Arcy participated in a women’s empowerment panel featuring women in different classifications in the department who shared their successes, challenges at work and home, and different ways that they navigated their civil service careers. In that same event, Marty and I asked the panel and the predominantly female participants to tell us what they need to feel better supported in the workplace. The chatbox lit up, and with some content analysis following the event and a women’s survey in June, we identified three main areas of concern for LADWP women: work-life balance, career development, and workplace conditions. In response to these, we have since formed the LADWP Women’s Council where committees will be formed to tackle these issues and come up with fixes to bring forth to management. This is about making our women’s voices heard, taking a seat at the table and advocating for what matters to the women of LADWP. And we will continue to do that in creative ways.
For this month, the Women’s Council is coming out strong with a series of events for all our department employees to enjoy. Just last Saturday, we had a very successful Women’s Power Walk at the Hollywood Reservoir with more than 200 employees and their families who came out and walked a few miles with me, Vice President Reyes and General Manager Adams, and enjoyed a morning of wellness and community. This event was co-hosted by the Women’s Council and LADWP SWE (“swee”) and spearheaded by the Corporate Strategy and Communications Division in close coordination with our hosts, the Water System, and the support of Security Services. I thoroughly enjoyed the chance to see so many smiling faces in person, interact with each other and get my steps in while appreciating one of L.A.’s own water gems.
Later this week, in keeping with the celebration of women’s history at LADWP, the Corporate Strategy and Communications Division will have a virtual photo exhibit featuring the women of the department from the early years through today. On the screen is a teaser of the photos on the virtual exhibit. You’ll see photos of many women breaking the bias throughout the years, installing cables and water meters, being the first female steam plant operator, first female engineer, first female IT manager and more. It shows the evolution of women’s roles from phone operators, home economists, administrators to leaders in various practices. Please watch out for this via department email and we will also share widely on our LADWP social channels for our customers to enjoy.
Lastly but not the least, we will have a women’s panel on March 29th, entitled Breaking the Bias, Then and Now. We are inviting back some of our retired women alongside current female employees, all of whom worked and continue to work to break the bias. We are looking forward to hearing their interesting stories and we will share more information about that event in the coming weeks.
In closing, I’d like to share with you a video. This was produced by our talented Corporate Strategy and Communications team and it highlights and celebrates the women of the LADWP who have and continue to build a stronger Los Angeles. We stand with them, because WE ARE LADWP.
Thank you, and Happy Women’s History Month!