Engaging Our Workforce

We strive to cultivate a workforce that is representative of the communities we call home. We work to continually develop the skills of our employees, proactively engage our talent, and instill a culture of safety throughout our organization and communities.

Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion

Providing equal opportunity is at the core of who we are. We continue to work to promote an inclusive work environment and foster diversity across our teams to provide a variety of perspectives that enhance our connections to the communities we serve.

Equal Opportunity

Our commitment to diversity and equal opportunity encompasses our whole workforce, including our field employees, office staff, management, and executive team. Our policy is to maintain a zero-tolerance approach to discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. We seek to provide equal opportunity regardless of age, sex, race, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, creed, citizenship status, disability, national origin, marital status, military status, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, or any other characteristic protected by law or any other non-job-related factor or activity. We review and address any non-compliance claims from employees, and we continue to work to enhance policies and procedures to support our employees. Annually, we submit our affirmative action plans and report Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) statistics.

We also work to promote diversity in our supply chain and increase spending with women-, minority-, veteran-, disabled veteran-, and LGBTQ-owned suppliers. For more information, see the Responsible Sourcing section.

Inclusive Hiring, Development, and Culture

We believe inclusion starts with our hiring practices. We strive to increase gender and racial/ethnic diversity throughout the Company, from the Board of Directors to entry-level positions. The Nominating/Corporate Governance Committee of our Board of Directors includes diversity as part of its consideration for director nomination. We value members who demonstrate a diversity of thought, perspectives, skills, backgrounds, and experiences, because these qualities can enhance our ability to innovate and improve our service.

Two employees collaborate in an office setting.
Our team members enjoy working in an inclusive workplace environment that focuses on collaboration, support, and learning from one another.

We support broad outreach and recruitment to reach a diverse group of candidates through targeted job boards, job fairs, and partnerships with local community colleges. We believe a strong workforce reflects a wide range of experiences, and we encourage people of all backgrounds, including veterans, to apply for our positions. Across Group, 7% of our employees are veterans, and our connection with veterans is especially strong in Hawaii, where veterans represent 12% of our team. To further promote inclusive hiring practices, we seek to provide more diverse panels of interviewers and proactively train our teams to prevent bias during the selection process.

Our leadership development program, Future Leaders of Water, also considers diversity in candidate selection for high-potential directors and management. The program contributes to a pipeline for senior management and considers diversity when advancing leaders to represent the communities that we serve. For more information about this program, see the Talent Retention Strategy section.

We work to foster an inclusive environment for all who join our team. At Group, our culture focuses on enabling effective collaboration and thoughtful discussion by supporting and learning from each other. We continue to work to promote inclusivity throughout the Company so everyone is empowered to contribute to our achievements and feels appreciated and respected. As part of our approach, employees receive annual live, online, or virtual video-facilitated trainings on topics including about unconscious bias and sexual harassment avoidance to support awareness of proper workplace conduct.

Progress Evaluation

We evaluate our progress related to diversity, equality, and inclusion to make improvements to our strategy. We periodically analyze pay equity for gender and other factors to implement changes, and we continue to analyze data on employee demographics as we aim to build a workforce that reflects our communities. Our Board of Directors also reviews our annual EEO reports and discusses ways to enhance our diversity strategy across all employee levels. Employee feedback helps to inform our approach as well, and provides additional context for our practices and priority areas. Our officers also gather insights about leading practices through our involvement in industry associations.



2022 Highlights

  • In 2022, we expanded our six-hour unconscious bias training to all full-time employees and received positive engagement and feedback. The training was completed by 95% of employees.
  • We increased our presence in diverse recruiting channels and engaged prospective employees through multiple career fairs, including military-, disability-, and minority-focused career fairs.

Employee feedback reflected the importance of unconscious bias training:

“The training was a good opportunity to learn a little bit about myself, as well as others I work with around the Company.”

“This gives people a perspective they may not have had before.”

“The course makes a person re-evaluate something they never considered.”

Racial/Ethnic Diversity in the Workforce

Donut chart showing the 2022 breakdown of racial/ethnic diversity in the workforce for field and office staff. 12% of field and office staff are Asian, 4% are Black, 34% are Hispanic, 1% are Native American, 3% are Native Hawaiian, 3% are two or more races, and 43% are White.
Donut chart showing the 2022 breakdown of racial/ethnic diversity in the workforce for management positions (first- and mid-level managers). 15% of management positions are Asian, 3% are Black, 25% are Hispanic, 1% are Native American, 2% are Native Hawaiian, 3% are two or more races, and 51% are White.
Donut chart showing the 2022 breakdown of racial/ethnic diversity in the workforce for senior management (directors and officers). 21% of directors and officers are Asian, 7% are Black, 11% are Hispanic, 0% are Native American, 0% are Native Hawaiian, 3% are two or more races, and 58% are White.

Percentage of Women in the Workforce

Donut chart depicting the percentage of women in the workforce in 2022: 27% of the overall workforce are women.
Donut chart depicting the percentage of women in the workforce in 2022: 27% of field and office staff are women.
Donut chart depicting the percentage of women in the workforce in 2022: 24% of management positions (First- and Mid-level managers) are women.
Donut chart depicting the percentage of women in the workforce in 2022: 32% of Senior Management (Directors and Officers) are women.
Donut chart depicting the percentage of women in the workforce in 2022: 45% of our Board of Directors are women.

Our culture focuses on enabling effective collaboration and thoughtful discussion by supporting and learning from each other.

Talent Retention Strategy

We believe the strength and success of our business depends upon the strength and success of our workforce. We are committed to attracting, engaging, retaining, and rewarding our employees while protecting their labor rights and promoting their overall well-being.

Talent Attraction

We aspire to recruit highly qualified professionals with a team-oriented mindset, effective leadership skills, and a passion for innovation. Candidates should also share our values and ethical standards, as well as our commitment to delivering high-quality service to our customers. Our hiring managers are trained to offer flexible interview formats, promote diverse perspectives, and receive unconscious bias training to help minimize potential preferential treatment and promote consistent hiring practices. For more information about inclusive hiring, see the Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion section.

We frequently collaborate with local high schools, trade schools, and colleges across our subsidiaries to help teach students about potential careers in the water industry and develop our talent pipeline. For example, through our regular engagement with Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in San Jose, Calif., we support low-income and at-risk students by offering work experience across our teams, including our Facilities, IT, Human Resources, Engineering, and Accounting departments. Additionally, we participate in career fairs and provide internship opportunities to students through our partnerships with San José State University and California State University, Bakersfield. Other established partnerships include those with Santiago College, Gavilan College, Cañada College, and California State University, Long Beach. We are also part of a California Water Association group that intends to collaborate with community colleges to build a career pathway in the water sector, and have identified a number of additional colleges across our regions with whom we plan to explore potential partnerships to expand our reach.

Training and Development

To aid employees in their professional growth, we seek to prioritize training and development opportunities. When evaluating strategic training needs for employees, we consider multiple factors, including internal standards; external regulations and compliance; feedback from previous trainings and team-building resources; succession planning and preparation for anticipated employee retirements; response to geopolitical or cultural events; and alignment with our core values. To help improve our training programs, we also solicit feedback and ask for suggestions from training participants. Our Human Resources team analyzes the feedback and adjusts courses to address suggestions for improvement as needed.

Using our human capital management platform, we work to promote consistency in our leadership training for employees. All managers are required to complete our Management Essentials training series, a course of six modules to improve management capabilities. Newly promoted and recently hired managers are also required to take a Foundations of Leadership training that offers tools and resources to help them drive success and navigate new roles.

Our Future Leaders of Water (FLOW) program provides an additional leadership development opportunity for employees and contributes to a key pipeline for senior management talent. In this 18-month program, high-potential directors and managers learn from officer mentors and complete modules to improve their capabilities related to strategic thinking, executive presentation, business writing, ratemaking, risk management, and project management. To evaluate the program’s impact, participants conduct a 360-degree assessment and measure their development.

Employees may also pursue external education opportunities. Our workforce holds over 1,500 industry-specific certifications, and we offer bonuses worth up to 3.5% of pay to encourage our employees to achieve additional certifications beyond the minimum requirements. We collaborate with a local community college to offer online water treatment and distribution certification courses, engage third parties to teach courses on our own campus, and provide tuition reimbursement for outside coursework. We also collaborate with a third party to grant access to over 120 state-approved courses for distribution, treatment, and wastewater certification obtainment and renewals. These classes are hosted in our human capital management platform and allow employees to easily access the training courses at any time. This also streamlines the process for employees to obtain and renew their certifications.

Group Employees undergo annual performance reviews to promote discussions with their managers, identify opportunities for development, and determine short- and long-term career goals. We also conduct annual talent review and succession planning sessions with each member of the officer team, with results presented to and discussed with the Board.

Additionally, we strive to provide ample opportunity for our employees to grow within the organization, so we support internal advancement, where possible, and offer an interim promotion program that allows employees to temporarily serve as managers and assess whether they want to proceed to the management level.

Compensation, Benefits, and Employee Wellbeing

We believe we offer competitive benefits that provide flexibility and strive to exceed legal requirements, because we want to take care of our employees and attract highly qualified talent. Our part-time employees receive the same benefits as full-time employees, with adjustments for accrual of hours, and some benefits are subject to minimum levels of service with the Company. We offer the following options:

  • Paid time off for holidays, employee sick and family sick time, personal days, and vacations
  • A 401(k) savings plan with an employer matching program
  • A defined benefit pension plan
  • Medical, dental, and vision insurance plans
  • Flexible spending accounts for both medical and dependent daycare expenses
  • Company-paid life insurance
  • Supplemental life insurance for employees and dependents
  • Long-term disability insurance
  • Employee Stock Purchase Plan for all regular employees working at least 20 hours per week
  • A commuter benefits program that encourages alternative modes of transportation instead of driving alone
  • Survivor benefits for dependents of a deceased employee
  • Retiree health benefits for employees who retire from the Company
  • An employee assistance program that provides childcare and eldercare resources
  • Emotional support services offered through external CareBridge professional counseling
  • Our Critical Incident Response Management (CIRM) program, which offers peer-to-peer emotional support for employees who experience stress, loss, grief, change, or other traumatic events
  • Tobacco-free incentive for healthcare
  • A return-to-work program that helps employees adjust after a work-related or non-work-related injury
  • Personal leave of absence that may be requested and approved in alignment with our Collective Bargaining Agreement
  • Additional leave that may be available under certain circumstances for education, family, reasonable dependent care, or other personal reasons
  • Financial wellness education, planning tools, and investment advisory services
  • Annual Employee Celebration Day
  • Flexible work schedules, including 9/80’s or hybrid remote work, where possible, and consideration of job-sharing requests
  • Webinars, articles, and additional resources to manage stress and foster positive mental health
  • Virtual support groups for stress and grief through our employee assistance program
  • Blue Zones Project Approved Worksites in Hawaii supporting practices and events that encourage healthy behaviors

Labor Relations and Management

We work to protect fair labor rights, maintain safe working conditions, establish regular dialogue with our employees, and efficiently address any concerns. As described in our Business Code of Conduct and the Ethics section of this report, employees can report any grievances as needed through our ethics hotline. Our policy is to respect the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining. To contribute to informed decisions, we provide information about the differences between union-represented and non-represented employees. We work to continue to preserve freedom of association by enabling a mechanism for union employees to submit grievances and outlining this process in union contracts.

At the end of 2022, union employees represented about 61% of our workforce, which includes members of the Utility Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO and the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE). We engage with our unions in regular meetings to review business matters and discuss potential issues. In partnership with our unions, we also seek to foster opportunities for career development and provide applicable safety and functional training. For more information about union involvement in our safety programs, see the Workplace Health and Safety section.

Employee Feedback

We assess employee satisfaction and gather feedback through the Bay Area News Group’s Top Workplace employee survey and the Great Place to Work® Trust Index© Survey. Our officers review findings and employee comments from these annual surveys and use the results to help identify opportunities to enhance our performance.



2022 Highlights

Our efforts in 2022 focused on further developing and engaging our talent:

  • Through our new Operations Leadership Program, we supported the growth of our employees by defining career maps, offering educational resources, and connecting each member of the program with a trained mentor to facilitate continued learning and professional growth in Operations.
  • We began to offer more flexible work schedules, including a 9/80 work schedule rolled out to eligible IFPTE union members and hybrid remote work options for other employees, where possible, depending on job function. We are exploring opportunities to expand these flexible options in the future.
  • Following the results of this year’s employee surveys, we engaged a third party to host employee focus groups to gain additional insights and better understand the survey results. We developed a response plan designed to address employee feedback and concerns, which we plan to roll out in 2023.

Employee Turnover17


voluntary resignation


employee retirement

Training and Engagement

22 hours

average hours of training per year, per employee


$1.1 million

incurred for employee training and continued education


employee satisfaction18

Named a Great Place to Work® by the Great Place to Work® Institute in 2022 for the seventh year in a row

17 As of year-end 2022. Employee turnover refers to the total number of employees that leave within the reporting year, as a percentage of the total number of employees (including full-time, part-time, permanent, temporary, and intern employees) at the Company for that given year. Voluntary resignation refers to instances in which an employee actively chooses to resign from employment with the Company, fails to return from leave, mutually consents to ending employment, or abandons their job, and excludes any instances of employee retirement.

18 81% was the average score across all areas in the 2022 annual Great Place to Work employee survey. The survey had a 35% response rate (421 responses of 1,146 invitations to participate)

Workplace Health and Safety

The health and safety of our employees is integral to the success of our business. We strive to exceed the requirements of applicable regulations and protect our team members by offering safety training, proactively preventing injuries, and fostering a culture of safety at our place of business.

Safety First

Health and safety represent a vital part of our operations because we believe our employees are our most important resources and are critical to our continued success. Our occupational health and safety management policies and procedures apply to all Group employees, facilities, and operations, and guides our strategy to preserve an accident-free and healthy work environment. We maintain an Illness and Injury Prevention Plan that incorporates over 30 internal programs, procedures, and policies related to health and safety. We review and update the plan annually and provide resources that enable our employees to more effectively mitigate risk and operate safely.

Our districts and states each have a local Safety Committee that meets monthly. Members include a Safety Committee Chair, Safety Champions, and representative employees across the organization, including frontline supervisors, managers, and union members. These committees leverage our “Safety Champion Handbook” to help complete job safety analyses, increase awareness of safety guidelines, and promote safe practices to minimize risks.

Employee Engagement and Training

Employees receive both in-person and online safety training to help mitigate safety risks, and we continue to analyze injury trends to inform and update our training. Our Master Planning Safety Training Calendar outlines annual training on general workplace safety and other safety-related topics. We track training attendance for all employees as required by OSHA standards, which mandate specific training for first aid, heat illness prevention, use of fire extinguishers, and other topics, and we continue to achieve a high completion rate for our training. New employees and existing employees are also required to complete vehicle safety training to learn about safe driving behavior, the causes of distracted driving, and our updated driving policies. Our vehicle safety program is designed to reward employees for safe driving and promote a consistent approach across departments and locations.

In addition to the required safety trainings for all employees, our Safety Department holds specialized training based on team/role exposure to specific safety risks. Training may cover “boots on the ground” emergency response, EOC response, wastewater biohazard safety, sprains and strains, hearing conservation, safe lifting mechanics, and ergonomics. We also provide optional training opportunities through our human capital management platform. To learn about specific training for emergencies, see the Emergency Preparedness and Response section.

We encourage employee involvement in the evaluation of our occupational health and safety programs by partnering with the Utility Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO, to train union employees to become Power 4 America (P4A) safety advocates in California. Safety advocates perform job site audits, provide guidance on safe practices, monitor use of protective equipment, and review safety products on site. We engage P4A safety advocates to help us meet our targets, identify training needs, and mitigate hazards. We believe the program contributes to the safety of our teams while fostering open dialogue and internal coaching among union members.

Risk Mitigation and Injury Management

We conduct extensive job safety analyses to help identify potential hazards, record trends in compliance, and promote safe practices. To learn from our performance and inform training, we encourage employees to report any issues, record safety and near-miss data, and collect insights from our “boots on the ground” team members. Our Stop Work Authority Program is designed to empower employees and contractors to pause work if they observe a health, safety, or environmental risk, and our policy prohibits punishment or retribution for exercising Stop Work Authority. Managers are required to evaluate the potential hazard and work to address any concerns to preserve safety in the workplace.

As part of our approach, we strive to prevent safety incidents before they occur. We provide personal protective equipment, implement clear rules and procedures for daily operations, and begin meetings with a safety reminder to help build a culture of safety. For relevant roles, we perform hearing and respiratory fit testing to confirm employees are prepared to work safely. Through our Injury and Illness Prevention Program, we seek to prevent injuries, mitigate risks, train employees, and thoroughly investigate any accidents.

When an injury occurs, our occupational health services include first aid, emergency treatment, health surveillance, and a triage nurse program designed to quickly evaluate injuries and determine appropriate action. We also support the reassimilation of injured employees through our return-to-work program. To help support overall employee wellbeing, we offer medical insurance plans, a peer-to-peer support program, and professional employee assistance. See the Compensation, Benefits, and Employee Wellbeing section to learn more.

To help minimize ongoing risks related to the pandemic, we continue to work to align all of our COVID-19 safety protocols with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and state-specific OSHA requirements. Our COVID-19 Taskforce EOC was in effect for all of 2022 and is expected to continue through 2023. We also maintain a designated Incident Commander who oversees daily operations relating to COVID-19 safety protocols and procedures, including use of personal protective equipment and travel restrictions.

Contractor Safety Management

Contractors performing work for Group are held to the same safety standards and expectations as our employees. Contractors are required to provide a health and safety plan for our review and confirm that any staff working with us have been trained. Both contractors and employees are required to review the job safety analysis before commencing work to support the identification of risks and understand methods to help mitigate any hazards. To help maintain oversight of contractors, we require contractors to provide daily reports of their work, and designated onsite construction managers are responsible for tracking their progress.

To help monitor safety in our supply chain, our supplier risk management program requires high risks and critical suppliers to submit annual reporting on OSHA recordable incidents. If injury rates exceed the industry average, our system is designed to flag the supplier, and we discuss potential actions with the supplier to improve their performance. Depending on the circumstances, we may delay or halt engagement with a supplier until they meet our criteria for safety metrics and provide written documentation of a safety plan.



2022 Highlights

As people returned to work after COVID-19 restrictions ended, we saw a spike in driving-related incidents and OSHA recordable incidents across various industries. To manage the risks associated with more people on the road, we expanded our vehicle safety program and procedures. We outlined policies to structure our approach, provided hands-on training, developed definitions for preventable incidents, and updated vehicle inspection procedures. Across our operations, we shared challenges and best practices, and recognized districts that achieved zero incidents. In addition to promoting safe driving behavior, we continue to consider additional safety features and alarms in vehicles as the Company updates our fleet.

Despite increases in incidents from prior years, we still performed better on average than the NAWC industry benchmarks on OSHA recordable incidents in 2022.

Line chart showing Group’s safety performance from 2020 to 2022. There are two lines: total case incident rate, or T C I R, and days away, restricted, or transferred, or D A R T rate. The T C I R gradually increases from 2020 to 2022. The T C I R was 2.9 in 2020, 3.4 in 2021, and 4.4 in 2022. The D A R T increases from 2020 to 2021, then decreases between 2021 and 2022. The D A R T was 1.9 in 2020, 2.8 in 2021, and 1.9 in 2022.

19 Total Case Incident Rate refers to the number of OSHA recordable injuries and illnesses occurring per 100 full-time employees during the designated reporting year. Days Away, Restricted, or Transferred Rate refers to the number of OSHA recordable cases involving days away from work, days of restricted work activity, or job transfer per 100 full-time employees during the designated reporting year. Per OSHA guidelines, these rates are calculated with the following formula: Total number of cases X 200,000 ÷ Number of hours worked by all employees = Total recordable case rate. The 200,000 figure in the formula represents 100 employees working 40 hours a week for 50 weeks during a calendar year, and provides the standard base for calculating incident rates.

We performed better on average than the NAWC industry benchmarks on OSHA recordable incidents in 2022.