Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Our efforts to create a more equitable and just workplace and downtown

Land and People Acknowledgment

The Downtown Seattle Association acknowledges that our work occurs on the homelands of the Coast Salish people, the first peoples of Seattle, who have continued to steward the lands and waters since time immemorial. We make this acknowledgement recognizing the unique role we play in stewarding downtown’s public areas and pursuing our vision of a downtown for all people. DSA commits to meaningfully engaging, including and honoring Coast Salish people and pursuing actions to amplify their rich history, culture and contributions.

Over the past few years, we at DSA have been assessing our role in addressing systemic racism and developing an action plan to become a more diverse, inclusive and equitable organization. Our efforts started in 2020 with internal dialogue, surveys and workshops involving staff and board members.

In 2021, the DSA Board of Directors created a new standing DEI board committee to provide guidance and direction to our DEI work as well as advise on our implementation strategy to ensure that DEI remains a top organizational priority.

The group, chaired by Mari Horita of the Seattle Kraken and Ben Franz-Knight of Shiels Obletz Johnsen, meets monthly and advances DEI policies and actions and provides regular updates to the DSA Board of Trustees. Additional members include:

  • Mark Barbieri, Washington Holdings
  • Marilyn Boss, Zurich
  • Michelle Merriweather, Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle
  • Fred Rivera, Seattle Mariners
  • Sung Yang, Pacific Public Affairs

As one of its first priorities, the committee helped update the DSA mission, vision and values to reflect a commitment to DEI and a downtown for all. Committee members continue to help identify diverse candidates for the DSA board and recently developed a land and people acknowledgment in consultation with Headwater Consulting and Puget Sound-area tribal leaders. The acknowledgment was shared for the first time at the annual State of Downtown event in March 2023.

In addition to board-directed work, the DSA/MID Human Resources team and executive leadership have updated recruitment and hiring practices to eliminate implicit bias and strengthen the diversity in our candidate pool, particularly for office-based professional and administrative jobs.

For more information, please contact Emily Bailor, DSA director of executive administration, at emilyb@downtownseattle.org.

DEI Priorities

Key Organizational Changes

  • Adopted a new mission and vision statement to articulate DSA’s commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
  • Developed a land and people acknowledgment
  • Developed and implemented key metrics to track the organization’s progress on identified DEI goals
  • Prioritized increasing the diversity of the DSA board, executive committee and staff leadership
  • Revised hiring practices to reduce implicit bias
  • Modified bi-annual employee engagement survey to measure employee belonging
  • Increased BIPOC participation and voices in member events, programming and external communications
  • Revised business practices to track engagement with WMB vendors
  • Increased entry-level wages by nearly 20%

2024 DEI Committee Priorities

  • Diversify DSA leadership
  • Diversify contracting opportunities with BIPOC vendors
  • Promote and support downtown BIPOC businesses
  • Increase visibility of Native People and Tribes
  • Provide board education/engagement opportunities
  • Serve as community convener

Key Outcomes

  • Diversity of the DSA board is 32%, up from 24% in 2020
  • Diversity of the DSA Executive Committee is 38%, up from 31% in 2020
  • DSA board officer positions are majority people of color
  • Current diversity of DSA senior staff is 27%
  • Member programing in 2021/22 included 35.4% people of color
  • Employees rate their sense of belonging at work a 4.34/5