SMUD BOARD AND CEO ISSUE STATEMENTS CONDEMNING RACISM AND CALLING FOR ACTION
Last night, the SMUD Board of Directors met for its first Board meeting since our community was shaken by the senseless and brutal deaths of George Floyd, as well as Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so many Black lives before them.
Arlen Orchard, SMUD CEO and General Manager, addressed the Board and said in part, “Their deaths are a stark reminder that we are still far from the just society we aspire towards. Their deaths are a stark reminder that as a society and community, we have failed to address decades of unequal justice, economic disparity and systemic racism. As a result of this failure and negligence, generations of Black Americans have and continue to suffer under the pandemic of racism.”
Orchard’s message and pledge was clear: Standing with and demanding equality for Black communities in Sacramento and across our nation is the only path forward. Racism in all its ugly forms must be eradicated. “We must all raise our voices and confront the reality of racial inequities that are a part of our history and our present-day world.”
SMUD Board President Rob Kerth joined with Orchard in demanding justice for Black lives and committed the full support of the Board.
“These deaths exemplify the systemic racism, unequal treatment, and social injustice that have plagued our community and our nation for generations. The deep emotional impacts are profound, particularly for members of our Black community,” Kerth said. “To our Black community and our Black employees: We see you. We hear you and we stand by you. We know outrage isn’t enough. We must engage in the conversation and commit to taking meaningful action. I speak on behalf of the SMUD Board and our employees by saying we’re committed to listening and understanding and being part of the solution.”
Together, SMUD’s elected Board of Directors and executive leadership team recommitted the company to pursuing diversity and inclusion in all employee and business practices and implored all employees and community members to join with them in condemning racism against our Black community and to listen, learn and take action to help our community heal and make positive and lasting change.
SMUD has supported the community for more than 70 years and was among the first in the region to create an Office of Inclusion to ensure that its workforce represented the local community. With guidance and leadership from a diverse executive team, SMUD has embraced differences and worked to provide a culture of education and understanding through seven Employee Resource Groups: Black, Military and Veterans, Asian, Latino, Women, Young Professionals and LGBTQ.
Our Sustainable Communities Initiative specifically works with regional partners to bridge the equity gap by providing funding and access to transportation, job training, healthcare, education and social justice programs. Together with our community partners, we are reaching underserved communities in our region and providing support to a variety of organizations that serve the most vulnerable populations in SMUD’s service area. For more on Sustainable Communities, visit SMUD.org/SustainableCommunities.
As an organization, SMUD provides more than $2 million annually to local nonprofits. In 2019, its employees donated more than $500,000 and 18,000 hours of service in our community to local nonprofits.
As the nation’s sixth-largest community-owned, not-for-profit, electric service provider, SMUD has been providing low-cost, reliable electricity for more than 70 years to Sacramento County and small adjoining portions of Placer and Yolo Counties. SMUD is a recognized industry leader and award winner for its innovative energy efficiency programs, renewable power technologies, and for its sustainable solutions for a healthier environment. SMUD’s power mix is about 50 percent non-carbon emitting. For more information, visit SMUD.org.