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Why Is Equity Important at a Port Authority?

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February 24, 2021

The Port recently received a question from a community member asking, “Why is equity important for a port authority?” Thank you for this thoughtful question and the chance to communicate about our commitment to racial equity. 

During the last 18 months, the Port of Seattle has made the important and intentional decision to prioritize racial equity in our practices, policies, services, and culture. In 2019, we became the first port authority in the nation to establish an Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, which is leading our efforts to become an equitable, anti-racist organization. There is much work ahead to truly realize this goal, but we are committed to imbedding equity, diversity, and inclusion into the fabric of the organization.  

Because people’s appetite for content differs, we offer you both a short summary below and a longer, more in-depth coverage of the Port’s equity work.  

Choose the option that best meets your needs: 

Why is equity important? (Summary version)

For too long, many in our region, including the Port of Seattle, have benefitted from white-dominant culture and comfortably operated in an unjust, racist society. Our institutional practices made it difficult for people of color and women to thrive and gain leadership positions, businesses owned by women and people of color to win contracts, and diverse communities in our region to contribute meaningfully to our decision-making processes. We recognize that without greater emphasis on the root causes of inequity, the Port will be challenged to  achieve our mission to serve all members of the public. 

To change policies that perpetuate racial bias and discrimination, it is critical to see and name race so that we can identify patterns of racial disparities. If we do not properly identify a problem, we will never be able to fix it. We are working to create a Port where race is not an indicator of a person’s success and there is opportunity for everyone.

We believe that this work will: 

  • Make the Port a better workplace where everyone feels like they belong  
  • Create a culture where all people are included, respected, and welcome 
  • Remove unintended bias and discrimination from policies and practices 
  • Create policies and practice that center racial equity, allowing us to intentionally and transparently address racial disparities 
  • Provide better service to the region by understanding the needs of everyone we serve  
  • Spark innovation by gathering and soliciting diverse perspectives  
  • Improve our ability to serve the unique needs of every community in this diverse region 
  • Facilitate economic growth and prosperity for everyone in the region, including those that have historically been marginalized and left behind 
  • Promote sustainability in terms of the environment, the economy, and the well being of communities 
  • Make us better, smarter, and stronger together 

Our vision is to develop a Port that mirrors — throughout its breadth of operations and services and within its leadership structure — the diversity of our community, instills principles of equity in its culture, and ensures a fair and intentional distribution of opportunities with the goal of expanding economic development and quality of life for all. 

To follow the Port’s equity work, subscribe to the Equity in Action newsletter 

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