United Water: Dedicated to Diversity
“Dedication and emphasis” has paid off for United Water and its diversity
The company—which provides water and wastewater treatment to about
7 million people in the United States, including the residents of
Indianapolis—is committed to promoting inclusivity in the workplace and in
society as a whole.
“We don’t just sit back and wait for people to come to us, we reach out,”
explains Tom Brown, General Manager for United Water Indianapolis.
Nowhere is that more apparent than with United Water’s Supplier
Diversity Program. Last year 36 percent of company purchases were to
Tom Brown local minority- and woman-owned businesses, and over the past three
years, its expenditures to M/WBEs has totaled more than $32 million,
according to Addison T. Simpson, External Affairs Director.
As part of its Supplier Diversity Program, United Water helps its business
partners to expand. For example, when United Water needed to have its
gas meters tested, the company suggested to its gas-meter provider to
expand into testing. “It helped us, and it helped him,” Brown says.
Internally, United Water also emphasizes diversity. All employees
received diversity training, and the company has substantially increased
the number of women and minorities in management.
“We want our corporate office to reflect the City of Indianapolis and its
diverse population,” Simpson says.
United Water, which was one of five businesses to win the City of Indian-
Addison T. Simpson apolis’ Celebration of Diversity Award in 2003, believes that promoting diversity is part of its broader social responsibilities. The company has
adopted Arlington High School, and approximately 30 of its employees step up
to act as mentors to 15 to 20 students. “We get involved in the lives of the kids,”
Summing things up, Simpson says: “Diversity is not just a livelihood; it is a way
of life at United Water. We don’t just do it because it’s part of our jobs—it’s
because it’s what we do.”
Photos: Tom Strattman (top), Harold Miller (bottom);
Courtesy of Indianapolis Downtown, Inc.
residential units will be priced below market rate, providing shelter for
families with limited income and those at risk of homelessness. “Red
Maple Grove marks the beginning of a thriving, diverse, mixed-income
community that will be a catalyst for further economic development and
investment on the city’s south side,” Mayor Peterson recently said.
Additionally, the city has invested in seven downtown “commercial
corridors” as part of a project called FOCUS (Fostering Commercial
Urban Strategies). This initiative, designed to stimulate small-business
growth, provides participating companies with improvement grants,
loans and other support. In the first half of 2006, FOCUS staff assisted
more than 100 companies with everything from marketing to zoning.
Redevelopment projects such as these are fueling Indianapolis’ construction industry, attracting visitors and creating jobs. Through
November 2006, city officials facilitated 33 projects with commitments
to create more than 3,600 new jobs and retain 13,905 positions. Other
projects in the works: a $1 billion expansion of the Indianapolis International Airport and a $900 million Indianapolis Colts stadium and
What’s more, planners for the city’s development projects have actively pursued bids from diverse suppliers. “Whether it’s design and archi-