Our business is rooted in the fundamental belief that every human being has the right to safe, clean, affordable, and accessible drinking water. Our success depends on the trust we build by upholding the highest ethical standards and protecting human rights—rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status. In accordance with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, we are committed to preserving and promoting all human rights outlined in the International Bill of Human Rights and the principles concerning fundamental rights set out in the International Labour Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.
We deliver on our promise to uphold the human rights of our employees, suppliers, customers, and communities by:
- Operating with the highest standards of ethics, accountability, and integrity
- Providing access to safe, clean, drinking water and reliable water service to our customers, firefighters, and communities at affordable prices
- Promoting the health, wellness, and safety of our employees
- Enforcing a zero-tolerance approach to discrimination, harassment, and retaliation per our Business Code of Conduct
- Providing a fair and competitive wage for all employees and respecting their right to collective bargaining
- Ensuring our suppliers meet the same rigorous standards per our Supplier Code of Conduct
- Providing a clear process for reporting potential misconduct
Ensuring that human rights are upheld in everything we do requires collaboration across our teams and business, including our:
- Board of Directors Nominating/Corporate Governance Committee, which holds responsibility for environmental, social, and governance (ESG) priorities.
- Board of Directors Enterprise Risk Management, Safety, and Security Committee, which meets regularly and reports at least annually to the full board.
- Board of Directors Organization & Compensation Committee, which is responsible for overseeing talent reviews and succession planning.
- Vice President, Human Resources, who oversees labor relations and appropriate management of our workforce; our diversity, equality, and inclusion efforts; employee benefits; and ethics and compliance matters.
- Vice President, Customer Service and Chief Citizenship Officer, who oversees our ESG efforts.
- Vice President, Chief Safety, Security, and Emergency Preparedness Officer, who manages our safety programs.
- Vice President, General Counsel, who shares responsibility for ethics and compliance matters and manages the fraud and ethics hotline.
Ethical Business Conduct
Respect for human rights can only flourish in a business environment that prioritizes honesty and integrity. We have integrated ethical standards and accountability throughout our policies, practices, and training at every level. We diligently safeguard the privacy and data rights of our customers and comply with all federal and state cybersecurity standards and data privacy laws. We expect the highest standards of personal and professional integrity from our Board of Directors and our employees. Board members adhere to the Code of Business Conduct and Ethics for Members of the Board of Directors, which outlines expectations for behavior and promotes a culture of honesty. Our Business Code of Conduct applies to all officers and employees, highlights areas of ethical risk, provides guidance in recognizing and handling ethical issues, and describes established mechanisms for reporting unethical conduct. We require all of our employees to receive annual ethics training on our Business Code of Conduct.
Water Affordability and Access
Water is a fundamental human right and providing access to safe, reliable, and high-quality drinking water is our greatest priority. We continually look for ways to manage our costs while ensuring our systems remain reliable, so that our customers can afford and have access to the water they need every day. We prioritize balancing the need to invest in infrastructure, people, and systems to maintain affordability for our customers. To develop proactive solutions for our districts, we work hard to operate efficiently, ensure rates reflect the actual costs of providing service, and provide support programs to protect customers’ access to water, such as our as Customer Assistance Program. We also offer flexible payment arrangements, payment extensions, and hardship grants.
Workplace Health and Safety
We believe the health, wellness, and safety of our people is the foundation upon which their performance, engagement, and growth is built. We focus on the health and safety of all employees both on and off the job and our robust occupational health and safety management system applies to all of our employees. We continuously identify and mitigate risks while providing extensive training and resources for employees to actively address potential safety issues. As events occur and circumstances change, we also adapt quickly to protect our workforce and build resilience, as seen by our response in 2020 to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Equal Opportunity Employment and Working Conditions
We are committed to treating people with respect and dignity, encouraging diversity, promoting equal opportunity for all, and fostering an inclusive culture. We provide equal opportunity employment and do not tolerate discrimination or harassment of any kind, including age, gender, race, ethnic background, sexual orientation, national origin, religious beliefs, disability, or any other characteristic protected by law. We hold our suppliers to the same zero-tolerance policy as it relates to discrimination and harassment. More information regarding our diversity, equality, and inclusion priorities and commitments can be found here.
Labor Practices and Relations
Our people are our greatest asset and we work hard to prioritize our employees and meet their needs. We provide fair and competitive wages to both our full- and part-time employees and offer a competitive benefits package for all full-time employees. We pride ourselves on our "One Team" culture and our close and cooperative working relationship with our unions. We respect the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining, and we honor an employee’s right to choose to be represented or not. We comply with and expect our suppliers to comply with the International Labor Organization Core Labor Standards and the California Department of Industrial Relations Sweatfree Code of Conduct.
As an extension of our team, we expect our suppliers to also conduct business with integrity, honesty, and professionalism in alignment with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Our Supplier Code of Conduct provides a foundation for our responsible sourcing program and covers issues such as fair dealing, preventing conflicts of interest, providing a safe and secure workplace, maintaining proper workplace conduct, protecting confidential information and human rights, and addressing environmental management and labor practices. We strictly prohibit slave, child, or otherwise forced labor. By carefully screening and continuously evaluating our suppliers, we ensure our supply chain fully reflects our values and the ethical standards we unequivocally uphold.
Process for Reporting Potential Misconduct
Part of being a responsible company means having the appropriate channels in place to address any concerns that may arise. Should employees have ethical or human rights-related concerns, they are encouraged to use the reporting lines with Human Resources or the Audit Committee. To reinforce our culture of accountability, we have established an internal ethics hotline, which employees may use to anonymously report any concerns or potential violations. As described in our Business Code of Conduct, we protect our employees from any form of retaliation for reporting misconduct and are committed to promptly investigating and addressing any breaches in conduct.
To learn more about our commitments, priorities, and progress related to human rights, please see our:
- Annual ESG Reports
- Business Code of Conduct
- Supplier Code of Conduct
- Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion Policy
- Commitment to Excellent, Affordable Service
- Code of Business Conduct and Ethics for Members of the Board of Directors