The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement as well as the disproportionate effects of the COVID pandemic have brought racial equity to the forefront of social policy in 2022. It's clearer than ever that data plays a significant role in our awareness and approach to equity and inclusion. In this article, we’ll talk about what equity and inclusion are and what role impact management and measurement (IMM) plays in creating a more just society.
- What is equity and inclusion?
- Impact Measurement, Equity, and Inclusion
- Better Impact Measurement, Better Advocacy
Some of the social challenges of the world are solved by Impact Organizations by leveraging Impact Measurement and Management.
What is equity and inclusion?
Equity and inclusion are related concepts. We often hear the term equality mixed in as well. Let’s start by defining these terms.
What is Equity?
The concept of equity acknowledges that not everyone in society starts from the same place. Privilege exists. Active steps must be taken to address imbalances in access and systemic barriers. Resources must be allocated so that everyone reaches equal outcomes.
Equity is a normative concept based on values of fairness and justice. It is the process of giving more to people who need it more because it’s agreed to be the right thing to do.
What is Equity vs Equality?
Equality gives everyone the same resources and assumes we all benefit similarly. We know that treating people the same can still produce unequal outcomes.
An example. A public library is built with a front door raised by two steps. Based on principles of equality, everyone is welcome in the new library. People with wheelchairs have difficulty accessing the library, though. The city spends extra funding to build an access ramp. This is equity. Equity recognizes that not everyone begins on equal footing. Some people need additional resources to ensure fair access or inclusion.
What is Inclusion?
Inclusion is the practice of welcoming different populations into a structure or organization. It means not only the physical presence of these individuals but their “authentic and empowered participation and a true sense of belonging.” Inclusion attempts to fix social exclusion (pdf) - a fundamental cause of all poverty. Social exclusion denies people the same rights and opportunities offered to others in society. The benefits of inclusion are significant. They include impacts like reduced poverty, reduced social conflict, and increased economic growth.
Impact Measurement, Equity, and Inclusion
Impact measurement and management (IMM) can significantly affect how we approach equity and inclusion. We are constantly saying that the right IMM opens a dialogue between institutions and the stakeholders they serve. Part of understanding equity is understanding the “where,” “how,” and “who” of discrimination. Stakeholders clearly identify systemic barriers and imbalances they experience. IMM takes the first steps towards awareness and understanding.
On the other hand, poor data collection and management have negative effects on equity efforts. For example, having aggregated data about “Asians” in US higher education belies the challenges faced by subgroups such as South Asians and Southeast Asians. Discrimination can be granular in nature or directed at some but not all. In this way, data can mislead or worse - erase - marginalized people.
Read More: Demystifying Impact Management
Better Impact Measurement, Better Advocacy
Data-driven advocacy. Policy-makers at all levels say “show me the data” to support their decisions. In equity, we determine where additional resources should go in order to correct imbalances. Having an effective IMM gives decision-makers maximum impact with scarce resources.
More than that, IMM provides data-driven advocacy. Information is neutral, but data analysis brings injustice to light. IMM provides concrete justification for racial justice in programs, services, and policies. Impact organizations can leverage IMM to create a better, more just society for all.
Fundamental. Equity and Inclusion are not extra work beyond what you already do. They are a fundamental part of your impact. It’s a lens through which you see everything. Ask “How am I creating equity through my program?” instead of separating the questions, “How am I delivering my service? How am I creating equity?"
A comprehensive IMM helps organizations tackle these questions while reducing the burden of impact reporting. With centralized data and dashboards, the right IMM platform gives organizations real-time information about equity with their stakeholders.
Equity and Inclusion at the core of Impact
Impact organizations tackle some of the most profound social challenges in the world today. These challenges are all fundamentally related to improving equity and inclusion. IMM provides the basis for data-driven advocacy, driving equity and inclusion through social impact.