Our Vision for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging

Every day nearly one million people take a drink of water that Louisville Water produces. It’s safe and high-quality. Most never give a thought to the people who make that water possible as it’s easy to take something that’s so reliable for granted. There are nearly 450 people who make up that glass of water; these are the employees at Louisville Water, and we could not be the anchor for public health and quality of life without them.

Because people make the product possible, it’s paramount that we provide a solid and sustained environment where employees feel psychological safety, belonging and respect. We cannot assume everyone feels this way. Providing that sense of belonging can be difficult in a society with so many differing opinions, beliefs, and unconscious biases. As with most companies and organizations, Louisville Water has many of the same cultural issues and challenges.  We are aware of these cultural issues within the organization and are actively working to improve.

We are committed to being champions for diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB). There is no place for racism, sexism, hate, or discrimination at Louisville Water. We know not every employee has the same experience and we know we have work to do to make certain inclusion is the norm. That’s why we’ve embraced a holistic approach to DEIB that’s grounded in listening, empathy, and action. It includes conversations (sometimes uncomfortable ones), education, leadership coaching and accountability, policies, building relationships across all demographics, resource groups, peer-to-peer and community engagement, and embedding diversity into the core of who we are and what we do.

This month as we celebrate Black History Month, it’s a time to look deep into our history, acknowledge our present, and look towards an always brighter future. Looking through our archives, we found the first documented Black employees at Louisville Water, the Thomas family. In the 1870s, James H. Thomas began working at Louisville Water and two other members of his family would join him. Several years ago, an employee suggested we honor the Thomas family with something that mattered to this employee – education. We created the Thomas Family Scholarship, and work with Black Achievers to identify high school seniors to consider for the $10,000 award. A group of employees review the applications and determine the recipient. We will present the fourth Thomas Family Scholarship this month.

The education that sparked the idea for the scholarship is just one of the important contributions to come from our DEIB efforts. There are many more. We can all learn how to better empathize and listen; we need to understand and embrace how our cultural differences make us stronger not divided; and we need to be accountable to ourselves, each other, and the community for ensuring we value every employee and every person who drinks our water.

What we’ve learned in our journey is that everyone has biases, often unconscious bias, and we can all do better. The question is “Are we working to do better?” Our answer is yes. Our DEIB efforts will not only make Louisville Water a better place to work; the efforts will make our community a better place to live. But change takes time. The actions we are taking will chip away at underlying issues and lead to a greater understanding. We are proud of every Louisville Water employee and proud to be a part of this community for nearly 164 years.