Embracing Diversity in the Workplace – Part II
by John A. Huguley – Community Writer
For a second year, the NW Facts Newspaper is proud to do a feature article on the Port of Tacoma on the subject of diversity in the workplace. This year we are highlighting two port employees; Ricardo Charlton, Port of Tacoma’s maintenance director, and Pat Patterson, assistant director of facilities maintenance.
Originally from the Bahamas, Ricardo Charlton came to the Port of Tacoma four years ago with over 20 years of experience. Before moving to the Pacific Northwest, he worked at ports in Louisiana and Florida. During his years in the industry he experienced many diversity changes, but none of the changes were as positive as he has seen at the Port of Tacoma. When he first came to the port he said he was given a blank slate and was granted the power to hire staff whom he felt were most qualified. He made it his goal to exhaust all avenues to find his new team. Ricardo says, “I made it my personal business to have total diversity … I wanted to create a work environment that reflects what the city of Tacoma looks like.”
Ricardo tells us he’s blessed to work in such a great work environment and to be living in the most beautiful part of the country right now. Among his many jobs, he says working for the Port of Tacoma is, “by far, unequivocally the best job he’s ever had.” Ricardo explains that the leadership as well as the people he works with daily are all outstanding. Ricardo has worked for several other ports around the country and says, “what we have here in Tacoma/Seattle is bar-none the best port there is.”
We also spoke with Pat Patterson, assistant director of facilities maintenance.
Pat is responsible for the facilities side of the day to day operations at the Port of Tacoma properties owned or managed by the Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA). He oversees a staff of 38 individuals of diverse backgrounds.
Pat came to the Port three years ago from the Tacoma Housing Authority where he served as the director of property management. The Port’s leadership team told Pat that they hired him to help make a difference. Pat has seen a conscious effort from the top down to make the workplace more diverse, including changes to the hiring process. Pat sees positive changes continuing based on the objectives of the current leadership at the Port and the goals of the NWSA.
Pat adds these wise words, “We have to keep moving – we cannot go backwards. As long as we have an agenda to move forward we are making progress.”
Today the Port of Tacoma employs about 250 people consisting of administration, maintenance, security, and skilled trades. The Port respects and values the rich diversity of its employees, customers, partners, and the community it serves. The Port is also committed to building an inclusive work environment that reflects the demographics of our community.
Founded in 1918, the Port is located on the Tacoma waterfront at the south end of Puget Sound. As the major economic engine for Pierce County, the Port of Tacoma supports more than 29,000 jobs and generates $3 billion in annual economic activity. Together, the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma make up the fourth-largest container gateway in North America and a major center for automobile shipments, bulk, and heavy-lift cargo.
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You can read last year’s article by clicking this link: