Watermark Employee Volunteerism
In 2017, we made significant progress toward our three-year pledge to log at least 100,000 employee volunteer hours for water-related activities through 2018. In 2017, we logged another 35,000+ hours to bring us to 56,000+ hours in the first two years of our pledge. The hours logged in 2017 represent a 70 percent increase over 2016. Through this effort, we’re encouraging our colleagues to roll up their sleeves and help solve water within their own communities.
We’re increasing engagement by starting at the top of our organization, with each of our senior leaders leading teams in a Watermark activity. To make it easy for employees to get involved, we have organized activities such as Walks for Water, water source cleanups and community education programs. Employees can also propose or participate in projects on their own. Through an online portal, MyWatermark, Xylem employees can connect with colleagues, sign up for projects and track their volunteer time.
Xylem volunteer “counselors” conducted lessons on the water cycle, water conservation, water pollution and water consumption, as well as leading a water sampling and analysis exercise.
Disaster Relief Efforts
The destructive forces of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, as well as the severe flooding in South Asia, were some of worst natural weather disasters on record, impacting millions across the world and creating billions of dollars in damages. Through our Watermark program, Xylem was at the ready to provide help. Our actions included monetary contributions from the company, employee donations matched by the company and a number of employee volunteer activities in the affected areas.
Response to Hurricane Maria
In the aftermath of the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria, the strongest storm seen by Puerto Rico in 85 years, access to clean water was one of the most urgent challenges faced by Puerto Ricans. Without a safe drinking water supply, families resorted to drawing water from wells polluted with untreated water or from streams contaminated with sewage. In partnership with Planet Water Foundation, Xylem sent a team of volunteers to Puerto Rico to build water-filtration towers in some of the most damaged places on the island – technology that would bring safe, clean water to communities most in need. In all, the team from Xylem built 12 water towers, each tower providing 10,000 liters of clean drinking water, enough to sustain 1,000 individuals daily.
As the towers went up, a Puerto Rican 12th-grade student helped our volunteers understand just how important this work was and is to the island, telling the team: “We’ve been watching the river flow by, and now you have given us the gift of Mother Nature for free and have made it sustainable. You guys are angels.” Often, it’s the giving back to those who need it most that makes the greatest impact on us at Xylem. Hurricane Maria and the resilient citizens of Puerto Rico helped us remember that in 2017.
Response to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma
Hurricane Harvey flooded the Greater Houston area in the fall of 2017 and was followed shortly thereafter by Hurricane Irma, which caused devastation in the Caribbean islands and severe damage in the southeastern U.S. In addition to monetary contributions to both The American Red Cross and Mercy Corps to support those organizations’ on-site efforts, Xylem sent approximately 100 employees from other parts of the U.S. to spend a week of paid volunteer time in the affected areas. Our colleagues worked with local non-profit agencies on several rebuilding projects. As part of these local efforts, Xylem volunteers built five houses through Habit for Humanity for families impacted by the hurricane. Xylem also developed a mentoring relationship with YesPrep, which is an open-enrollment public charter school system serving students in grades six through 12 in Houston’s most underserved communities. Xylem provided a financial contribution to help the students who were directly impacted by the hurricane, and, with the support of our colleagues located in Houston, we launched a water education program that will be used on a continuing basis by the science department.
Response to Extreme Flooding in South Asia
A severe monsoon flooded much of South Asia, displacing or impacting millions in India, Nepal and Bangladesh. Xylem donated $100,000 and matched employee donations 2-for-1 to Mercy Corps and its local partners’ efforts to implement water, sanitation and hygiene initiatives on the ground. Xylem also provided funds to the Planet Water Foundation for the construction of two aqua towers near a disaster relief center in Maharashtra, India, where thousands sought refuge from the floods.