New report documenting racial inequity in our state spurs corporate leaders to action: An Equitable Future for Washington

This year has brought new, focused attention to the persistence of racial inequity, in our nation and our state. A new report, The Commitment to Progress: An Equitable Future for Washingtonis an intense, data-driven analysis of racial disparities. The research, compiled by Challenge Seattle and the Washington Roundtable and conducted by the Boston Consulting Group, is a clear-eyed call to action, one that Washington’s business leadership has embraced, announcing formation of Washington Employers for Racial Equity earlier this week.

Before we look at commitments made by WERE, it’s important to understand the challenges it will be addressing. Key findings of the research efforts document striking inequities:

IN OUR STATE:

  • Black Washingtonians experience higher incidences of infant mortality, asthma, diabetes, and HIV infection compared to white Washingtonians.

  • The high school graduation rate for Black students in the class of 2019 (73.6%), trails that of white students (82.8%) by 9 percentage points. The education gap grows to 13 percentage points when assessing the projected postsecondary credential attainment rate by age 26 (based on estimated credential attainment for high school class of 2017).

  • Black Washingtonians are six times more likely to be incarcerated than white Washingtonians.

  • Black households earn $0.74 for every dollar earned by white households.

  • Black-owned businesses account for only 1% of the state’s businesses and average revenue for Black-owned businesses is 2.3 times less than for white-owned businesses.

  • Black executives account for less than 1.9% of corporate leadership roles.

This infographic from the report tells the story well.

There’s a lot of data in the report, which we recommend be read in its entirety.

The conclusion: 

Racial inequity exists across multiple dimensions of life, with cumulative effects that reinforce one another. These disparities cannot be explained away by socioeconomic factors and the evidence shows that structural barriers to equity exist in our state and in our nation.

Racial bias and structural inequity have no place in Washington’s future. We must all work together to take decisive and thoughtful action to secure an equitable future for all people in our state.

The specific commitment of the WERE coalition:

The coalition will commit to drive racial equity in the corporate sector. The coalition’s collective goals for 2030:

  • Foster an inclusive corporate culture inside our organizations. This includes removing bias to achieve racial equity in hiring, evaluation, and promotion processes; providing anti-bias training and racial equity education for employees; supporting a community of Black professionals; and amplifying the voices and experiences of our Black employees and customers.

  • Employ a workforce that reflects our communities. The percentage of our workforce that identifies as Black should mirror the percentage of the working age population that identifies as Black in the communities in which we operate.

  • Achieve racial parity in average compensation for employees in similar job categories.

  • Increase Black representation in management and senior leadership positions.

  • Increase internships and work-embedded learning experiences for Black students.

  • Increase diversity and racial equity among contractors, vendors, and supplier networks and increase investment in Black-owned businesses.

  • Invest a combined $2 billion in corporate, community, and philanthropic efforts to support racial equity in the next five years.

Opportunity Washington was formed five years ago with a clear mission: To expand Washington’s culture of opportunity to individuals, families, employers, and communities in every corner of the state. That goal cannot be accomplished without addressing racial inequities directly. 

We applaud the efforts of Washington Employers for Racial Equity.