LADWP Announces Its First Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer

Photo: Los Angeles Department of Water and Power

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power today announced it appointed its first chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer who will report to the department's general manager, as directed by an executive directive issued by Mayor Eric Garcetti to have all city departments appoint racial equity officers.

Monique Earl was selected to lead the department's newly created Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, where she will be responsible for overseeing policies, practices and programs designed to improve diversity and opportunities at LADWP and position the agency to better serve communities with the highest needs. Earl has worked for the city for 20 years across positions in the legislative, executive and administrative branches. Her experience includes leading diversity, equity and inclusion efforts at the Los Angeles Department of Transportation. She also worked under Los Angeles Controller Ron Galperin as chief deputy controller and in the administration of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as deputy mayor of budget and financial policy.

“It is an honor and huge responsibility to join LADWP in this pivotal role. I look forward to building upon the DEI foundation the Department is laying and establishing a culture where everyone feels seen, heard and valued,'' Earl said.

Earl will be part of the senior management team that reports to LADWP General Manager Martin Adams, who said he wants to ensure that LADWP includes diversity, equity and inclusion in all of the department's operations.

“I am thrilled to have Monique join our leadership team. The energy, enthusiasm and experience she brings will help LADWP move forward in all areas of DEI, both with our internal staff as well as how we serve communities across Los Angeles. Monique will play a key role in helping us make LADWP the best public agency it can be,'' Adams said.

On June 22, LADWP unveiled its Racial Equity Action Plan, which includes launching a workforce development initiative to create good paying jobs and career opportunities for communities that have been historically disadvantaged.

“The department's work around racial equity since Mayor Garcetti issued Executive Directive 27 has been nothing short of breathtaking and it's something that I am very proud of,'' LADWP Board President Cynthia McClain-Hill said in a statement on June 22.

Garcetti's executive directive required that every department create a racial equity officer position and develop racial equity action plans. Each city department's plan will outline policies on recruitment and hiring, training, retention, promotions and contracting, as well as describe efforts to promote and hire from “a robust pool of qualified candidates to promote diversity,'' Garcetti said.

“I have to give full credit for this effort to the hundreds of thousands of people who took to the streets all over the country during the social justice protests of 2020,'' McClain-Hill said. “It really lit a fire under everyone, and it lit a fire under me to advance a comprehensive strategy to address racial equity at the nation's largest city-owned utility.''

The department also noted its work on leading the LA100 Equity Strategies, which builds on the LA100 renewable energy study to ensure that communities of color in Los Angeles benefit from the city's transition to 100% renewable energy.

The department found disparities in the participation of low-income neighborhoods in rooftop solar programs, electric vehicle rebates and more renewable energy initiatives. The department says it will work to ensure that communities most impacted by poor air quality are able to benefit from those programs.

LADWP also launched a workforce development initiative focused on expanding its Utility Pre-Craft Trainee Program, which was created to provide a pathway to middle-class, well-paying jobs at the department. LADWP plans to fill 3,000 positions over the next five years due to its aging workforce and high number of expected retirements.

Jobs include meter readers, maintenance, construction helpers, lineworkers, water utility workers, security officers and custodians. The program's trainees start at a salary of $19 an hour plus a healthcare subsidy of $7 an hour.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, we not only kept the water and power flowing, we also began a thorough review of our operations and identified ways we can ensure we are meeting the needs of all of our customers across our economically and culturally diverse city,'' said Adams.

“It has been an extraordinary collaboration, led by the mayor and our board in partnership with myself and members of our staff, and one that we look forward to continuing through the hiring of our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer and by advancing other key equity strategies,'' he said.

Copyright 2021, City News Service, Inc.

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