SEATTLE – December 1, 2020 – Black Washingtonians and their families experience significant inequities across multiple facets of life; the effects of which compound over time and cross generations, according to a report released today. Challenge Seattle and Washington Roundtable, business associations whose member companies represent 300,000+ employees in Washington state, partnered with Boston Consulting Group (BCG) to conduct the research.
In response to the findings, corporate leaders across Washington are announcing formation of Washington Employers for Racial Equity. This growing coalition includes more than 55 CEOs and corporate leaders committed to racial equity and opportunity for all.
The report, The Commitment to Progress: An Equitable Future for Washington, centers on data comparing the experiences of Black and white Washingtonians across multiple dimensions of life – education, healthcare, criminal justice, personal finance, and the corporate workplace. It was developed with input from Black community and business leaders; diversity, equity and inclusion specialists; and data and research experts.
- Black Washingtonians and their families experience significant disadvantages across every dimension of life examined.
- The interrelated effects of these inequities compound over time and cross generations.
- Disparities exist regardless of socioeconomic status or education levels, and point to inequities across systems, structures, and policies.
- COVID-19 and the related recession are magnifying disparities and deepening racial inequities.
“The data and research are clear – Black Washingtonians have not received fair and equitable opportunities for generations,” said Chris Gregoire, CEO of Challenge Seattle and former governor of Washington state. “The COVID-19 pandemic is only magnifying these inequities. We have much work to do to support lasting change in private and public sector systems, structures, and policies.”
“This research further documents the inequities that Black Washingtonians and their families experience across multiple facets of life,” said Steve Mullin, president of the Washington Roundtable. “It will take a concerted effort from all of us to actively drive change.”
This initial report focuses on Black Washingtonians because of the long history of injustice and degree of inequity experienced by this community. That said, racism impacts everyone and contributes to inequities for Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian Pacific Islander, and many other communities.
Washington Employers for Racial Equity: Commitment to Progress
CEOs and corporate leaders have stepped forward to create Washington Employers for Racial Equity. To begin, the coalition will focus on advancing equity for Black Washingtonians, while staying focused on the ultimate goal of equity and opportunity for all. In forming this coalition, employers have signed a commitment to progress, with collective goals for 2030. Those goals include:
- Fostering an inclusive corporate culture
- Employing a workforce that reflects Washington’s communities
- Achieving parity in employee compensation
- Increasing Black representation in management and senior leadership
- Increasing internships and work-embedded learning experiences for Black students
- Increasing diversity and racial equity among contractors, vendors, and supplier networks; and increasing support for Black-owned businesses
Coalition members have set a goal to invest a combined $2 billion over five years to support racial equity through their companies’ internal and external corporate investments and community and philanthropic efforts. The coalition will advocate statewide for actions and public policies that support racial equity, with an initial focus on education equity, home ownership, and support for Black-owned businesses. Washington Employers for Racial Equity is committed to accountability. The collation will report on collective progress and urge the measurement of statewide equity indicators.
“As organizations work collaboratively across sectors to address the social and economic issues that affect the health of our communities, we must also partner to promote equity and opportunity to ensure a better future for all of Washington,” said Susan Mullaney, president of Kaiser Permanente Health Plan of Washington and chair of Challenge Seattle. “This work cannot wait. We must strengthen our current efforts by listening, learning, and taking action to eliminate injustice and support racial equity.”
“I am proud to be part of a coalition of employers joining forces to advance racial equity through clear action that will support change,” said Craig Dawson, president and CEO of Retail Lockbox, Inc. and incoming chair of Washington Roundtable. “Washington state leaders across industries – including financial services, healthcare, retail, construction, technology, and more – will work toward shared goals for a better, more equitable future.”
Challenge Seattle and Washington Roundtable serve as the coalition’s founding sponsors. Additional sponsors include Bellevue Chamber, Economic Alliance Snohomish County, Greater Seattle Partners, Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber, and Washington Hospitality Association.