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2022 in Review: Advancing Equity at the Port

February 14, 2023

Nearly four years ago, the Port of Seattle became the first port authority in the country to establish an Office of Equity. In doing so, our organization committed time and resources to embed equity, diversity, and inclusion into the fabric of the organization. Also, by creating the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (OEDI), the Port acknowledged that for too long it has benefited from white-dominant culture and comfortably operated in an unjust, racist society. By failing to acknowledge these inequities, the organization realized that it was playing a role in perpetuating them. 

Since the creation of OEDI, and in a relatively short period of time, the Port has made significant progress in advancing equity and creating a culture of belonging and inclusion. Some highlights of this work include:  

  • Launching the South King County Community Impact Fund to support communities near SEA Airport in environmental restoration and economic recovery 
  • Creating the Youth Maritime Career Launch to create a pipeline for low-income youth and youth of color to gain experience and jobs in the maritime industry 
  • Establishing Juneteenth as a paid holiday 
  • Adding anti-racism and equity as core values of the organization; and,  
  • Completing a one-of-a-kind Women of Color Assessment to identify the top barriers to success for women of color at the Port and to generate specific recommendations and solutions for addressing those barriers. 

On Tuesday, February 14, OEDI presented its annual report to the Port Commission, highlighting the Port’s 2022 efforts to advance equity and providing a roadmap for 2023. OEDI staff presented on progress related to many aspects of the Port’s work, such as hiring, training, and budgeting. Below are a few of the achievements from last year; and for more details, check out the OEDI 2022 Annual Report (executive summary and full report). 

For the first time in the Port’s history, all non-represented employees, including leadership and supervisors, were required to have an annual performance goal measuring their work to advance equity, diversity, and inclusion. This requirement is part of recommendations from the 2021 Equity and Women of Color Assessments, and the goals were tailored for employees based on their role. 

Also for the first time in the Port’s history, departments were required to set annual department-specific equity goals. The process to identify and set goals was led by OEDI and the Port’s Change Team, and beginning this year, the progress of department goals will be tracked and reported on annually.  

OEDI and Human Resources partnered to institute new requirements to the Port’s hiring process. The changes were recommendations from the 2021 Equity and Women of Color Assessments and are aimed at creating more fairness and less bias within the hiring processes. The following are part of the implemented changes: including the Port’s vision for equity on all job postings; diversity of race and gender on all hiring panels; watching and discussing an anti-bias video prior to conducting interviews; removing unnecessary minimum qualifications from a position prior to posting it; and providing direct feedback from the hiring manager to internal candidates who did not get the position. 

While the Port has committed to becoming an equitable, anti-racist organization, racial equity doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, commitment, and perseverance. In many ways, racial equity is both a process and an outcome. It is about transforming our relationships, culture, and institutions. At times, fighting for racial equity can feel like we’re falling uncontrollably, battling the bias, discrimination, and injustice that is deeply imbedded in so many aspects of our lives. Against these forces, we can struggle to find our grip and footing, which is why is it critical that we take time to celebrate our achievements and victories.  

As we continue to invest time and resources to become a more equitable, anti-racist organization, we are grateful for the opportunity to serve the community of this region, and we are grateful for your continued partnership and support.  

Read the OEDI 2022 Annual Report (executive summary and full report). 

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