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Racial Grievance Policy

 

If you have already read the policy and are looking to report a racial grievance, click here for the racial grievance reporting form or scroll to the bottom of this page. A PDF of the full policy is available here.

 

Purpose and Values Statement

Seattle Works is building an anti-racist culture of belonging, where people can show up being their true selves, and accountability and is working to model anti-racist practices in our institutional and personal behavior. The racial grievance policy is to support people of color to feel safe in the Seattle Works community and to actively address and interrupt microaggressions, harassment, racial discrimination, and other racial misconduct. Our racial grievance policy is grounded in the lived experiences of people of color and our commitment to addressing and reducing racial grievances in our community. Seattle Works’ culture is growing to be truly more representative, so people of color in our community have organizational support and feel safe.

This policy ensures that:

  • All perceived violations and complaints of racial discrimination and harassment are considered seriously and dealt with in a manner that is fair, urgent, and consistent.
  • People reporting racial grievances feel that their grievances are addressed and taken seriously.
  • People reporting racial grievances do not experience any retaliation or victimization.

This policy applies to all people who are a part of the Seattle Works community, including but not limited to:  staff, board, volunteers, donors, and nonprofit and corporate partners.

 

Definitions

Seattle Works defines racism as “a system of oppression maintained by institutions and cultural norms that exploit, control, and oppress People of Color groups in order to maintain a position of social and material supremacy and privilege for white people.” (Source: People’s Institute Northwest for Survival and Beyond). This policy is specifically intended to build a safe community for people of color.

Racist incidents include but are not limited to inappropriate racial comments, microaggressions, slurs, jokes, pictures, objects, threats, physical assaults, intimidation, institutionally or culturally racist policies, practices, and norms, unequal application of policies based on race, and unequal or biased treatment based on race. This includes behaviors, actions, or systems that are not intended to be racist but harm people of color, and intentional racial harassment or discrimination.

  • Examples
    • Microaggressions, defined as “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color” (Source: The People’s Institute Northwest).
    • Unwelcome comments and conduct with racial connotation(s) or subject matter that are demeaning to an ethnic group or people of a particular skin color or group
    • Offensive and vulgar jokes, name-calling, ridicule or mockery, insults or put-downs, stereotyping based on a person’s skin color, ethnicity, or national origin, physical gestures or enactments, or displaying racist photographs or objects;
    • Unwelcome requests or demands for favorable treatment due to one’s skin color, ethnicity, or national origin;
    • Physical assaults or threats and intimidation
    • Denial or obstruction of access to programs or opportunities with Seattle Works
    • Policies, practices, and norms that perpetuate institutional or cultural racism
    • Unequal application of policies
    • Any other racist misconduct that interferes with building culture of belonging at Seattle Works, where people can show up as their true selves

A racial grievance is the reporting of a racist incident to Seattle Works.

 

Reporting and Addressing Racist Incidents

To address a racist incident and report a racial grievance, Seattle Works has the following procedure:

If you feel safe and able, directly address the person committing the racist incident:

  • Address the person committing the incident directly.
    • You can have another person with you when addressing the person directly.
  • Name the behavior or activity and how it impacted you (or someone else, if you have their permission. If you are an observer, check-in with person impacted first before confronting the behavior. See “If you are an observer of a racist incident” below.)
  • Explain that their action or behavior is against Seattle Works values and policies and give them a chance to correct their actions.
  • If that does not resolve the incident, bring your concern to a Seattle Works representative as quickly as possible, using the contact information below.
  • The Seattle Works representative will address the incident according to our investigation and grievance procedure listed below.
  • Complete racial grievance reporting form or report incident to a Seattle Works representative so Seattle Works has record of incident.

If you don’t feel safe or able, do not directly address the person committing the racist incident:

  • Bring your concern to a Seattle Works representative as quickly as possible, using the contact information below or racial grievance reporting form.
  • The Seattle Works representative will address the grievance according to our investigation and grievance procedure listed below.
  • The Seattle Works representative is responsible for recording the incident through the racial grievance reporting form and recording any action taken by Seattle Works.

If you are an observer of a racist incident:

  • First, check in with the person experiencing the racist incident to see what support they need and what course of action would be most helpful to them.
  • From there, determine next steps for addressing or reporting the racial grievance (see above for more details).
  • If you see someone address a racist incident, offer them support and acknowledge their action to continue to build solidarity and community around interrupting racism.
     

Investigation and Grievance Procedure

  • Once a Seattle Works representative is notified about a racial grievance and the person reporting requests follow up, they will first reach out to the person affected to hear their experience and decide on an appropriate course of action that best supports and protects the affected person.
  • The first action must be taken by the Seattle Works representative within three business days.
  • Next steps may include:
    • A Seattle Works representative meeting one on one with the offender to share the feedback, reinforce our values, and determine a corrective action plan.
    • Holding a mediation session or other conflict resolution with the affected person and the offender.
    • Involving a third-party person trained in conflict resolution, specifically around racial grievances.
    • Conducting a prompt, thorough, and fair investigation towards a resolution.
    • Dismissing offender from Seattle Works and/or Seattle Works programs and events.
    • Training or education for offender or community at large.
    • Updating Seattle Works’ policies, norms, and practices to dismantle institutionalized and/or cultural racism at Seattle Works.
    • If needed, supporting person impacted with going to police or taking legal action.
  • The Seattle Works representative may reach out to other Seattle Works representatives for support in addressing the racial grievance.
  • If a racial grievance is reported anonymously, Seattle Works representatives will determine the best course of action to address the grievance with the information provided.
  • The Seattle Works representative will record the grievance and any action taken on the racial grievance reporting form, if the incident has not already been reported on the form.
  • If the incident is already reported on the form, the Seattle Works representative will send the Director of Operations (or the Chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, if the grievance involves the Director of Operations) the Seattle Works response and the result of the action. The DOO will record the response on the racial grievance reporting form response page.

Seattle Works Representatives

  • Every Seattle Works staff member and board member should see themselves as a representative of Seattle Works if someone needs assistance in addressing a racial grievance.
  • Designated Seattle Representatives (contact whomever you feel most comfortable)
  • The person wishing to report a racial grievance may also contact a person they feel most comfortable contacting, inside or outside of the organization, and ask them to report on their behalf.
  • Complete our racial grievance reporting form, anonymously or not anonymously (also located on our website).

Tracking and Recording Information

Seattle Works will maintain a record of reported racial grievances and actions taken to hold ourselves accountable to addressing racial grievances and continuously learning and growing as an organization.

  • All reported racial grievances must be recorded in the racial grievance reporting form. This includes reporting from:
    • Person who experienced or witnessed a racist incident,
    • People who are contacted about reporting a racial grievance on behalf of someone else may contact any of the above contacts or complete our racial grievance reporting form, or
    • Seattle Works representatives who are contacted about reporting a racial grievance.
  • The Director of Operations and Chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee will receive email notifications when the form is completed.
  • The Director of Operations is responsible for ensuring that any action taken by Seattle Works is recorded on the reporting form response spreadsheet.

Confidentiality, Access to Information, and Protection from Retaliation

  • All grievance reports will be treated as confidential to the extent possible while addressing the grievance.
  • Grievances reported via the racial grievance reporting form will be shared with the Director of Operations and Chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, and other people as appropriate to address the grievance.
  • Records of racial grievances about staff will be placed in the offender’s personnel file. A record of the racial grievances report will not be placed in the personnel file of a staff member reporting an incident.
  • Threats, other forms of intimidation, and retaliation against a person reporting a racial grievance or any other party involved in implementing the racial grievance policy are violations of the policy and may be grounds for disciplinary action.

Acknowledgements and Sources

Our racial grievance policy and reporting form were compiled from Dent Values, University of Cape Town Policy on Racism and Racial Harassment, Goshen College Policy and Procedures on Racial Misconduct, Racial Harassment & Discrimination, and The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond Northwest. Our policy is informed by our work with New Directions Consulting, Cultures Connecting, and HR and Equity, and current and former Seattle Works staff and board members.