Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

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

The murder of George Floyd in May 2020, along with the killings of other Black men and women, and the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color, have once again brought front and center the deep racial injustices that exist within our country.

Since that time, under the guidance of DEI consultants, DSA has been assessing our role in addressing systemic racism and developing an action plan to become a more diverse, inclusive and equitable organization. We recognize this has not historically been an organizational strong suit. Our efforts started with internal dialogue and employee workshops. In the fall of 2020, we launched a DEI Task Force, including board members and DSA/MID staff.

In 2021, the DSA Board of Directors created a new standing 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 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

The committee will initially be working to revise our mission, vision and values to reflect a commitment to DEI and an inclusive downtown recovery. Members will support the recruitment of new board members that reflect greater diversity and will provide formal training opportunities for the board.

Below are anti-racism resources provided by our consultants for all to pursue at their discretion.

Questions can be directed to 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 and implemented key metrics to track 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%

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
  • Current diversity of DSA staff leadership position is 27%; for Director level and up diversity 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

In Progress

  • Developing a land and people acknowledgment and action plan
  • Building a program to provide opportunities for DSA Board leadership to engage with staff
  • Further expanding diversity of DSA Board, Executive Committee and staff leadership
  • Developing a program to provide opportunities for DEI learning for staff and board

Anti-racism Resources

  • Scaffolded resources is a working document to guide from colorblindness to developing an anti-racism practice.
  • The Obama Foundation offers this comprehensive list of education and action resources.
  • The National Museum of African American History and Culture launched an online portal with tools and guidance for talking about race.
  • The Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley is helpful for understanding the roots of racism and addressing bias. Some resources for parents are also included.


Self-care Resources for Black, Indigenous and People of Color

  • The American Psychological Association offers this resource guide for dealing with the impact of racism on mental health.
  • Liberate is a meditation app made by and for BIPOC.
  • The BEAM Collective helps to remove barriers to mental-health care for the Black community and offers help finding a culturally responsive mental-health provider.
  • Self-published a list of 44 individuals, organizations and collectives that focus on Black well-being.
  • The Loveland Foundation offers a therapy fund for Black girls.

Self-education Resources for Aspiring Allies