American Water (NYSE: AWK), the largest publicly traded U.S. water and wastewater utility company, announced that three of its executives were recognized by the National Diversity Council for their professionalism, integrity and leadership qualities. American Water’s Chief Financial Officer Susan Hardwick was recognized as a Top 50 Financial Leader, while Valoria Armstrong, Chief Inclusion Officer and Vice President, External Affairs, was honored with the Leadership Excellence Award. Pamela Richardson, Vice President, Chief Labor Employment and Commercial Counsel, was recognized as a Top 50 General Counsel.
“American Water believes in investing in our people, our customers and our communities,” said Walter Lynch, president and CEO of American Water.
“At American Water, we encourage, honor, and celebrate differences in our employees, including race and ethnicity. Inclusion and diversity of ideas, thoughts and experiences are vital to our culture and the way we do business. Having multiple members of our leadership team be recognized by the National Diversity Council is a true honor for us.”
Recognized as a Top 50 Financial Leader, as CFO Hardwick is responsible for all aspects of financial management and strategy, including directing finance strategy, investor relations, treasury, financial planning, accounting, internal audit, risk management, supply chain, regulatory services, and control functions. She leads a diverse organization that provides continuous opportunities for growth among her employees and challenges them to achieve their personal and professional goals. Ms. Hardwick treats her employees with respect, integrity and fairness and is committed to developing and engaging talented professionals.
Ms. Armstrong was honored with the Leadership Excellence Award, which distinguishes a select group of individuals from diverse fields. According to the National Diversity Council, the focus of the award is to give prominence to accomplishments of men and women who exceed the scope of what is expected in their organizations and communities. Ms. Armstrong has been responsible for strengthening the American Water’s inclusion and diversity strategy by creating a comprehensive and integrated focus on driving diversity, equity, mutual respect, and inclusiveness across the organization. She is also responsible for leading government and regulatory affairs across American Water’s regulated and market-based businesses. Ms. Armstrong engages with key external stakeholders like the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and the National Utilities Diversity Council
Recognized as a Top 50 General Counsel, Ms. Richardson is a key leader at American Water, providing advice and counsel on a wide variety of employment issues affecting American Water’s more than 7,000 employees. She assists the company’s labor relations team with strategy and provides legal counsel on issues unique to the company’s 3,000 union represented employees. Richardson is also responsible for organizing and overseeing the legal department’s diverse supplier strategic goals and for its Diversity Corporate Legal Summer Internship Program, which provides promising law students greater opportunities. Ms. Richardson serves as the executive sponsor to the company’s African American/Black Employee Business Resource Group, which is a forum for employee participation and business impacts in the areas of careers, culture, and community.
“Creating an inclusive and diverse work environment is not something a company can achieve by checking off a series of boxes. It requires honest self-examination and a commitment to deep fundamental change,” said Melanie Kennedy, Chief Human Resources Officer. “Over the last few years, American Water has worked hard to embed inclusion and diversity into the fabric of our culture. These recognitions highlight the efforts our company has made to hire, develop, and promote diverse talent. As a company, we understand that our diversity is our strength as reflected in the inclusivity of our employees and the communities we serve.”
The formal ceremony for these awards will take place virtually at the 17th Annual National Diversity and Leadership Conference on April 21-22 and April 28-29, 2021 hosted by DiversityFirstTM. The conference will be held virtually with this year’s theme being “Be a Changemaker”. The four-day conference will honor a number of diverse talent from different industries.