Equity is a personal value of mine, and I am always looking for ways to apply it more at work. The Improve Group is also committed to equity. My colleagues and I know that this requires continued learning, application, and reflection. I was drawn to a recent workshop provided by a group of evaluation professionals through the American Evaluation Association, “Utilization of a Culturally Responsive and Racial Equity Lens,” to continue advancing my equity journey and practice.
Drawing on past experiences, trainers discussed practical ways to take a culturally responsive and racial equity lens in evaluation. A big takeaway from the training for me was that equity is a skill that must be continuously honed. Although I’ve done equity work in various positions, it’s always helpful to revisit the foundations of equity because the world is constantly evolving. My other key takeaways were:
- Racism and culture are dynamic and ever changing.
- I don’t have to do things the same way just because they’ve always been done that way.
- It’s never too late to start using a culturally responsive and racial equity lens—no matter where I am in the evaluation process.
- I should communicate with clients and partners early about applying a culturally responsive and racial equity lens so there is shared commitment and understanding of the value of its impact.
- Authentic equity work is challenging on all sides of the table, whether you are the evaluator, client, or an affected community member.
I’ve already applied what I learned—for example, I used a self-assessment tool the trainers shared to review how I learned about a project topic area (the foster care system and youth who experience out-of-home placement). This helped me realize I should make it a habit to draw on a greater variety of sources that value different ways of knowing—including books, podcasts, trainings, events, research, and local and national organizations.