Tacoma Public Utilities commits to ongoing work on racial injustice

A message from Director Jackie Flowers

Tacoma Public Utilities values being accessible and accountable to the people we serve. That means ensuring equitable access to services vital to their quality of life.

We understand that we have more work ahead to help end systematic racism and achieve racial equity as an institution.

We commit to reflection and growth, to listen and learn, and to plan for and implement lasting change. We will engage in thoughtful dialogue with our policymakers, leaders, employees, community partners, and the utility industry. Together, we will work to ensure our policies, procedures, and practices include the needs of our communities of color.

We must show up on the side of equality and anti-racism. In the days, months, and years ahead, we commit to becoming better allies for the communities of color we serve and for our employees of color who work hard to provide the vital services our communities rely on.

Ongoing dialogue is crucial. However, we commit to continuous action and know the Public Utility Board and the community will and should hold us accountable for results.

Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity activities underway at TPU

In 2018, we stood up a satellite office for the City of Tacoma’s Office of Equity and Human Rights (OEHR) to launch inward and outward initiatives related to equity, inclusion, and diversity.

About 40% of our employees have taken Equity 101 training at TPU; our goal is to reach 50% by the end of 2020. That work will continue until all employees have received the training. We commit to training beyond Equity 101.

A diverse, cross-organizational committee of TPU employees convene to prioritize and provide input on equity, inclusion, and diversity initiatives (inward and outward). The committee, under OEHR guidance, developed the Equity and Empowerment Strategic Action Plan, and advises on its implementation. The committee will work to support the executive team with an assessment of practices and services at TPU concerning equity, inclusion, and diversity that will drive future strategic actions.

In collaboration with the OEHR, we are expanding the City’s Equity Index to include our Tacoma Water and Tacoma Power service areas. We use the Equity Index to aid with reviewing our programs and services through an equity lens based on data specific to Tacoma.

We pursued modifications to hiring processes. The actions include:

  • Implicit bias training for hiring panels.
  • Instituting diverse hiring panels.
  • Enhancing applicant data collection and review for diversity in the candidate pool.

In concert with the City, we are mapping out strategies to enhance our talent pipeline diversity through our internship programs. Working in collaboration with other community organizations and with a targeted focus on diversity, we will cultivate a diverse talent pipeline and raise awareness in the community about career opportunities at TPU. We are also supporting the City’s Workforce Development Study and will implement its findings.

Our Public Utility Board is committed to equity, inclusion, and diversity. In August 2019, the PUB adopted its first Strategic Directive focused on Equity and Inclusion. With its defined outcomes and oversight of TPU policies, the PUB will lead the accountability cycle on our activities.

I am proud of the work we have accomplished and acknowledge that there is a lot of work left to do. Manuel Ellis, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless other lives taken deserved more. People of color still fighting institutional racism, oppression, and marginalization deserve better. We will continue to be diligent in our work to ensure TPU and the communities we serve are welcoming, safe, and equitable.

Tacoma Public Utilities commits to ongoing work on racial injustice 1

Jackie Flowers
Director, Tacoma Public Utilities

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