Environmental Justice and Service Equity Glossary

Glossary of SPU Terms

  • Accountable - Responsive to the needs and concerns of those most impacted by the issues you are working on, particularly to communities of color and those historically underrepresented in the civic process.
  • Community outcomes - The specific result you are seeking to achieve that advances racial equity.
  • Contracting Equity - Efforts to achieve equitable racial outcomes in the way the City spends resources, including goods and services, consultants and contracting.
  • Culture - Culture refers to the norms and commonalities between a group of people that inform their way of life. This includes, but is not limited to, customs, language, arts, social institutions, and achievements of a nation, people, or social groups.
  • Environmental Justice - Environmental justice reflects the fundamental reality that vulnerable communities are all too often subject to the disproportionate burden of pollution and contamination (NRDC, 2019)
  • Equity - The distribution of resources that accounts for past history and current position, so that future outcomes are fairly distributed.
  • Equality - The distribution of resources so that all receive the same amount regardless of past history, current position, or future outcome.
  • Immigrant and Refugee Access to Services - Government services and resources are easily available and understandable to all Seattle residents, including non-native English speakers. Full and active participation of immigrant and refugee communities exists in Seattle's civic, economic, and cultural life.
  • Inclusive Outreach and Public Engagement - Processes inclusive of people of diverse races, cultures, gender identities, sexual orientations, and socio-economic status. Access to information, resources, and civic processes so community members can effectively engage in the design and delivery of public services.
  • Individual racism - Pre-judgment, bias, stereotypes about an individual or group based on race. The impacts of racism on individuals including White people internalizing privilege and people of color internalizing oppression.
  • Institutional racism - Organizational programs, policies or procedures that work to the benefit of White people and to the detriment of people of color, usually unintentionally or inadvertently.
  • Opportunity areas - One of seven issue areas the City of Seattle is working on in partnership with the community to eliminate racial disparities and create racial equity. They include: Education, Health, Community Development, Criminal Justice, Jobs, Housing, and the Environment.
  • Race - Race is a made-up social construct, and not an actual biological fact. Race designations have changed over time. Some groups that are considered "white" the in the United States today were considered "non-white" in previous eras, in U.S. Census data and in mass media and popular culture (for example, Irish, Italian, and Jewish people.)
  • Racism - The power to use characteristics or abilities associated with race to create a systematic form of oppression. The goal of racism is to treat people better or worse based on the supposed inferiority or superiority of their races.
  • Racial equity - When social, economic, and political opportunities are not predicted based upon a person's race.
  • Racial inequity - When a person's race can predict their social, economic, and political opportunities and outcomes.
  • Racial justice - The systematic fair treatment of people of all races, resulting in equitable opportunities and outcomes for all.
  • Racial prejudice - Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief one's race is superior, and that members of different races, including their own, possess characteristics or abilities specific to those races.
  • Service Equity - Service equity is the delivery of inclusive and equitable service to all customers recognizing our systems carry important and documented inequities based on race, income, gender, and sexual orientation among others.
  • Stakeholders - Those impacted by proposed policy, program or budget issue who have potential concerns or issue expertise. Examples might include specific racial/ethnic groups, other institutions like Seattle Housing Authority, schools, community-based organizations, Change Teams, City employees, unions, etc.
  • Structural racism - The interplay of policies, practices and programs of multiple institutions which leads to adverse outcomes and conditions for communities of color compared to White communities that occurs within the context of racialized historical and cultural conditions.
  • Workforce Equity - Ensure the City's workforce diversity reflects the diversity of Seattle

We are intentional in how we work to create service equity. Our goal is to ensure all customers have equitable opportunities, access, and results.

Public Utilities

Andrew Lee, General Manager and CEO
Address: 700 5th Avenue, Suite 4900, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 34018, Seattle, WA, 98124-5177
Phone: (206) 684-3000

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Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) is comprised of three major direct-service providing utilities: the Water Utility, the Drainage and Wastewater Utility, and the Solid Waste Utility.