Innovation is required to support water sector talent development and diversity
World Water Day, March 22nd 2016 focused on the topics of jobs in the water sector. On that day, NEWIN partnered with BeCause Water to run a jobs fair in Boston and we partnered with Novus Technical Services and BW Research Partnership to run a round-table meeting for some of the regions leaders in talent development. The round-table meeting was attended by representatives from Oasys Water, MassCEC, Northeastern University and a number of local foundations that support talent development efforts. A clear outcome of that early meeting on talent development is the need to proactively drive diversity in the water sector workforce.
This is a critical challenge for the water industry as a whole, we need more diversity in our operations teams, engineers, technology developers and business managers. Building from that meeting of thought-leaders on talent development, NEWIN has focused on diversity and talent development as a key component. We are bringing the topic of diversity and talent development into the three areas that we work: Issue Based Advocacy; Community Engagement and Networking; Innovation Programming. As we progress, you will see activity focused on diversity and talent development in these three buckets.
The first of the efforts we can highlight has been led by staff at two member organizations, Oasys Water and the University of Rhode Island. Dr MaryTheresa Pendergast, Director of R&D at Oasys Water and Dr. Vinka Craver, Professor at URI are leading NEWIN’s Women in Water Innovation Initiative. You can read their bio’s here: MaryTheresa and here, Vinka.
NEWIN’s Women in Water Innovation Initiative (W2I2) held a formal meeting during the recent 2017 Symposium for Water Innovation in Massachusetts (SWIM). W2I2 seeks to develop a network of driven people in NEWIN to promote and strengthen the representation of women in leadership positions in the water sector.
During SWIM, MayTheresa Pendergast and Vinka Oyanedel-Craver, co-chairs of the initiative, lead a productive breakout session in which members of NEWIN were able to share their views about challenges to increase diversity in the sector as well to discuss about the activities that NEWIN-W2I2 should promote at the short and long term.
Some challenges identified were:
- number of women in the sector is not there yet as supporting network,
- women sometimes restrict themselves to promotion opportunities mostly due to lack or poor advice, and
- work-life balances issues in the current corporate environment.
In order to address these issues NEWIN-W2I2 will work during in 2018 in four main activities:
- Develop a core membership at W2I2 and the creation of task force committees,
- Training of core NEWIN membership on gender-bias issues and activities to increase diversity,
- Reach other women organization on the northeast to increase mentorship and training opportunities and
- Develop a database to identify candidates from a skills and competence based list, rather than selecting speakers based on recall to diversify seminar series, award nominees etc….
FREE MEMBERSHIP TO NEWIN!
If you are interested to participate in the exciting W2I2 efforts, please reach out to us. Through the remainder of 2017 NEWIN is providing FREE individual-membership to women working in water companies. Please send us an email for more information / application criteria. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org