Building a culture of inclusion at Aqua

By Aqua Talent Acquisition and Diversity Lead Satnaree Brandon

“Excuse me, miss, do you work at Aqua?” said a voice breaking me from the trance of my iPhone while commuting on the regional rail one morning.

“Yes, I do. Can I help you?” I asked, unsure if I was about to speak to a customer.

“You spoke to my son at a job fair two months ago. I can’t express how much it meant to me that you spent time with him asking him questions about his resume, coaching and engaging him in conversation,” she said

I braced myself for a long conversation with a doting mother, then I quickly remembered speaking with the woman and her son, who happened to be visually impaired, two months before. I handed them both my business card, which includes braille text, and encouraged her son to follow up with me if he was interested in applying for a job.

As the diversity lead at Aqua America, part of my job is to help pave our way as an employer of choice that values diversity and inclusion in the utility industry, which is not necessarily known for this. Speaking to a person who is visually impaired at a job fair might not seem significant, but I had conveyed to this young man and his mother that Aqua is a welcoming place to work, we are inclusive, and we place great value on you as an individual.

In traditional terms, growing a diverse workforce means that Aqua seeks to hire and promote a variety of people, regardless of ethnicity, nationality, gender or gender identification, sexual orientation, age, background or ability. But beyond building a diverse company, Aqua is looking to be an inclusive company, with a supportive and respectful environment where all employees can achieve their full potential.

Regardless of color or creed, it is human nature to seek out an inclusive workplace. Fair treatment, equal access to opportunity and feeling welcomed as a teammate who belongs there help to build a happy and engaged group of employees. When we talk about inclusion, we are talking about how we make the mix of differences come together and have meaning, with the ultimate goal to provide everyone a seat at the table.

Aqua understands that building a culture of inclusion requires representation of diversity at all levels of the organization, and Aqua’s approach has been to build this from the top down. While 20 percent of our leadership at the vice president level and above is female, which is uncommon for our industry, we are also working to ensure a similar collection of diverse outlooks throughout the rest of the company.

But our goals extend beyond making sure we hire women, veterans, minorities, or any other specific group. It’s about transforming Aqua’s recruitment and retention strategy to ensure that we recruit, train, retain and promote engaged, passionate employees who will flourish.  In taking initial steps to realize this vision, Aqua is exploring partnerships with diversity organizations to build a talent pipeline specific to diversity. We’re also actively participating in career forums, attending young professional networking events, partnering with veterans coalitions to engage, hire and support transitioning veterans to civilian life, and encouraging mentor relationships with the senior leadership team.

   

While I’m at the beginning of my tenure with Aqua – only nine months in this role – I am encouraged by senior leadership’s belief that diversity and inclusion is an essential aspect of our company’s culture as we continue to grow. I always say that if you build an inclusive culture they will come, and I look forward to updating you in the coming months on the progress we’re making to transform our company. 

 

 

 

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Building a culture of inclusion at Aqua

By Aqua Talent Acquisition and Diversity Lead Satnaree Brandon

“Excuse me, miss, do you work at Aqua?” said a voice breaking me from the trance of my iPhone while commuting on the regional rail one morning.

“Yes, I do. Can I help you?” I asked, unsure if I was about to speak to a customer.

“You spoke to my son at a job fair two months ago. I can’t express how much it meant to me that you spent time with him asking him questions about his resume, coaching and engaging him in conversation,” she said

I braced myself for a long conversation with a doting mother, then I quickly remembered speaking with the woman and her son, who happened to be visually impaired, two months before. I handed them both my business card, which includes braille text, and encouraged her son to follow up with me if he was interested in applying for a job.

As the diversity lead at Aqua America, part of my job is to help pave our way as an employer of choice that values diversity and inclusion in the utility industry, which is not necessarily known for this. Speaking to a person who is visually impaired at a job fair might not seem significant, but I had conveyed to this young man and his mother that Aqua is a welcoming place to work, we are inclusive, and we place great value on you as an individual.

In traditional terms, growing a diverse workforce means that Aqua seeks to hire and promote a variety of people, regardless of ethnicity, nationality, gender or gender identification, sexual orientation, age, background or ability. But beyond building a diverse company, Aqua is looking to be an inclusive company, with a supportive and respectful environment where all employees can achieve their full potential.

Regardless of color or creed, it is human nature to seek out an inclusive workplace. Fair treatment, equal access to opportunity and feeling welcomed as a teammate who belongs there help to build a happy and engaged group of employees. When we talk about inclusion, we are talking about how we make the mix of differences come together and have meaning, with the ultimate goal to provide everyone a seat at the table.

Aqua understands that building a culture of inclusion requires representation of diversity at all levels of the organization, and Aqua’s approach has been to build this from the top down. While 20 percent of our leadership at the vice president level and above is female, which is uncommon for our industry, we are also working to ensure a similar collection of diverse outlooks throughout the rest of the company.

But our goals extend beyond making sure we hire women, veterans, minorities, or any other specific group. It’s about transforming Aqua’s recruitment and retention strategy to ensure that we recruit, train, retain and promote engaged, passionate employees who will flourish.  In taking initial steps to realize this vision, Aqua is exploring partnerships with diversity organizations to build a talent pipeline specific to diversity. We’re also actively participating in career forums, attending young professional networking events, partnering with veterans coalitions to engage, hire and support transitioning veterans to civilian life, and encouraging mentor relationships with the senior leadership team.

   

While I’m at the beginning of my tenure with Aqua – only nine months in this role – I am encouraged by senior leadership’s belief that diversity and inclusion is an essential aspect of our company’s culture as we continue to grow. I always say that if you build an inclusive culture they will come, and I look forward to updating you in the coming months on the progress we’re making to transform our company. 

 

 

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DIY Water Parks: Build a Backyard Aquatic Adventure

With Summer in full swing, it’s no surprise that the weather outside has been getting hot, hot, hot!

Instead of shelling out money, waiting in line, and dealing with the stresses of taking the family to a water park, we have another idea: bring the water park to you! By skipping the hassles of a busy water park and working together to set up these fun water games in the grass, you’ll have tons of fun as a family.

Read on for some easy and fun ways to transform your backyard into an amusement oasis for the kids —and the kids-at-heart!

Water Balloon Piñatas

Water balloons are a summer classic. Turn the hot weather staple into something new by hanging oversized water balloons from a tree branch or the monkey bars, then take turns breaking your water piñatas with a baseball bat. (Just make sure you clean up all the broken balloons once you’re done so any furry friends don’t accidentally eat them.)

For a little extra fun, award a popsicle prize that corresponds with the color of each balloon you break!

Pool Noodle Sprinklers

It’s easy to transform a pool noodle—another classic summertime staple—into a refreshing sprinkler. Just poke holes into your pool noodle, plug the opening on one side and then attach the mouth of a garden hose into the other side. When you turn on the water, you’ll have a fun H2O gadget ready for any party. Read even more detailed instructions here.

Human-Sized Bubble-Maker

via GIPHY

Blowing bubbles and a warm summer breeze go together like peanut butter and jelly. These human-sized bubbles will put wonder and awe into the eyes of your guests.

All you need is a lot of bubble solution, a plastic kiddie pool and a hula hoop. Fill up the pool with the bubble solution, then have one of your guests stand inside the hula hoop inside the pool. When they pull up on the hula hoop, the bubble will envelope the person inside. This is a great way to add some whimsy to your backyard waterpark.

Slip ‘N-’ Slide

Photo via Flickr user Fred Rockwood

No backyard water park would be complete without a slip ‘n-’ slide. As it turns out, DIY slip ‘n-’ slides tend to be more durable than their storebought counterparts. Gather up heavy plastic sheeting, dish soap and stakes to secure the plastic to the ground. For full instructions on how to build a heavy-duty slip ‘n-’ slide that’ll be a hit all season, head here.

We hope these ideas have sparked your imagination and added some fun to your summer. Always remember to stay hydrated when you’re outdoors—even when you’re surrounded by water!

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Animal Hydration is a Priority at the Philadelphia Zoo

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This is a guest blog by the Philadelphia Zoo.

At the Philadelphia Zoo, keeping animals cool and hydrated is an important part of caring for the 1,300 animals that call America’s first zoo home.

Depending on the animal, there are a variety of ways to keep the residents at the Zoo chill in the warm summer months, including mud wallows, misters, swimming pools (indoor and outdoor), access to air conditioned indoor areas and, of course, lots of water. Each species may prefer or need something different, and zookeepers work to provide what is best for the animal they care for.

For Tony, our southern white rhinoceros, mud wallows in his exhibit seem to work best. Keepers excavate a large area and fill it up with fresh water and watch Tony roll around and frolic in the mud. Besides the fun and the ability to cool down, the mud bath offers a variety of benefits to Tony, including providing a natural UV buffer to protect his skin and defense against pesky insects.

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Mammals like Amur tigers, snow leopards and red pandas always have access to their indoor areas if they want to go inside to hang out in air conditioning. Hippos, tigers, polar bears, otters and more have large swimming pools and area water misters if they want to take a quick dip to cool off. Of course, every animal at the Zoo has continuous access to fresh drinking water. 

Additionally, keepers provide frozen and delectable ice treats as another creative way to keep the animals cool and hydrated. Many animal residents are treated to refreshments like peanut butter, sweet potatoes, or other snacks that have been frozen in ice.

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Icy delicacies like fishsicles are a favorite for our giant river otters and polar bear. Frozen fish like smelt and trout are not only a vital part of our otter’s diet, but they also act as a refreshing treat and are always a welcome snack!

No matter the species, the well-being of every animal at the Zoo is the number one priority. As America’s first zoo, we offer well-established animal care programs and work with dedicated teams to ensure the best care for all of the wildlife living within our historic gates.

On your next Zoo visit, keep an eye out for our animal residents and the unique ways they keep cool and hydrated!

 

 

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Ask a Vet: Pet Hydration 101!

This is a guest blog by Kristin Budinich, VMD, of the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS).

July is Pet Hydration Month, and with summer in full swing, keeping your pet hydrated in the heat and humidity is essential for keeping them healthy and preventing illness.

Just like people, your pet’s body is made up of mostly water—about 80 percent. Water is essential for every important bodily function, and without it, they wouldn’t survive. In addition to helping with food digestion and nutrient absorption, water helps our pets regulate their body temperature (which is especially important in the summer because dogs don’t sweat) and flush toxins out of the body.  

While we may scrutinize the ingredient list on a bag of food to select a high quality diet for our pet, most of us don’t give nearly enough attention to the other important part of overall nutrition: water! Our pets require adequate amounts of water each day so that their bodies can stay healthy.

How much water does your pet actually need?

As a general rule, dogs should drink approximately one ounce of water per pound of body weight each day. Activity levels and environmental factors will obviously play a role; dogs that are more active require more water, while sedentary pets in cooler environments may require less. Dogs regulate their body temperature mainly by panting, so these water losses will need to be replaced on those hot summer days.

Drink up, pup!

Since most of us are in the habit of just filling the water bowl and plopping it on the ground until it’s empty and we fill it again, how can you be sure that your pet is getting enough water?

  • Measure the amount of water that you pour into your pet’s bowl. This is easy enough, and can help you monitor intake. Remember that canned food is about 70 to 80 percent water, so pets that eat canned food may drink less than those on a dry diet.
  • Ensure that fresh water is available at all times, and that the water bowl is large enough, not tippable and cleaned regularly.
  • Cats may prefer a water fountain of continuously circulating water if they tend to enjoy drinking from the sink.
  • If your pet frequently moves throughout the house, place water sources on each floor of the home where they most often spend their time.
  • A portable water bowl should be taken on walks, or brought outside during longer play periods.
  • Ice cubes can be added to the dog’s water bowl or given as a treat. Oral electrolyte solutions or broths are available for finicky drinkers, and edible liquids can also be frozen into Kong toys for added fun and a yummy treat!

To each their own, right?

Remember that pets with illnesses such as diabetes or kidney diseases may have increased thirst compared to their healthy counterparts, but if your pet hasn’t been diagnosed with one of these things and they are constantly at the water bowl, a visit to the veterinarian is in order.

How do you know if your pet is dehydrated?

Telltale signs of dehydration include sticky gums, sunken eyes or decreased activity. Check your pet’s “skin tent” for a quick assessment of hydration by gently lifting up on the skin between your animal’s shoulder blades, then watching how quickly it falls back into place. Normally, the skin should fall right back into place, but in a dehydrated animal, there is a delay because the skin is less elastic. Pets who are chronically dehydrated may have a dry, flaky hair coat that lacks luster.

Ensuring that pets are well-hydrated is important not just during Pet Hydration month, but throughout their entire lives!

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Dr. Budinich is a veterinarian at PAWS, which offers low-cost spay/neuter and basic veterinary care to pet owners and rescue organizations that cannot otherwise access or afford care. PAWS’ clinics enable struggling pet owners to keep their pets as part of their families, rather than surrendering them to shelters. Reducing the number of animals that face homelessness is part of PAWS’ overall mission to make Philadelphia a no-kill city where every healthy and treatable pet is guaranteed a home. For more information or to adopt, foster, donate, or volunteer, please visit www.phillypaws.org.

 

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