Corporate leaders commit to a racially equitable future for Washington

Two of Washington’s prominent business leaders have written an important op-ed published by The Seattle Times. Brad Tilden, CEO and board chair of Alaska Air Group, and Phyllis Campbell, chair, Pacific Northwest Region, JPMorgan Chase address the challenge of racial inequality and describe how some of our state’s business executives plan to meet that challenge. 

Washington has work to do on racial equity. Take a look at the data. Compared to white residents, Black Washingtonians are 150% more likely to die as infants, 30% more likely to be taught by a less experienced teacher, 45% less likely to own a home and six times more likely to be incarcerated. Our state’s Black households earn only $0.74 on the dollar compared to white households, and only 1% of the state’s businesses are owned by Black entrepreneurs.

Such inequities are widespread and are not explained away by education and socio-economic factors.

The data cited comes from a recent report that we discussed December 3. The research sparked creation of a new organization, Washington Employers for Racial Equality.

Campbell and Tilden write,

Our nation is engaged in an urgent conversation about racism and how to build an equitable future. Over the past six months, a coalition of Washington’s business leaders have been on a journey to listen and learn; to better understand the causes and impacts of racism; and to put forward a plan to build an equitable future for all of Washington. We have sought the input and insights of Black community and business leaders; national racial equity specialists; data and research experts; diversity, inclusion and equity professionals; and those with lived experience.

What is clear is that we must act. Corporations and employers must own their part of the problem and make changes to address inequity in the workplace.

Here’s their commitment:

As a first step, a statewide coalition of Washington’s CEOs and corporate leaders committed to a racially equitable future have come together to form Washington Employers for Racial Equity. This growing list of 55-plus companies has set out clear collective goals, including to achieve parity in hiring, pay, and promotion for Black Washingtonians; support Black-owned businesses; and invest a combined $2 billion over the next five years to support racial equity. Knowing what gets measured gets done, the coalition will set measurable targets, assess progress, and publicly report collective results. Finally, the coalition is committed to joining its voices to those advocating for racial equity in Washington.

Please, read the op-ed. Again, we applaud the effort.