How-to for Institutions Beginning their Race Equity Journey
"Race is a social construct that has deep societal impact. Our nation’s history of racism has been codified through systems such as slavery, education, and housing — all issues that the social sector seeks to address. As such, the social sector has a mandate to eliminate racism at all levels on which it exists and shift its axis towards race equity." This statement sets the tone and context for a report by Equity in the Center, which tackles how organizations can begin the race equity journey in their respective institutions.
The authors of Awake to Woke to Work: Building a Race Equity Culture have identified seven strategic elements of an organization that, when leveraged, can build momentum towards a culture of racial equity at an institutional scale, including: senior leadership, management, board of directors, community (or the populations served by the organization), learning environment (or investment in staff capacity), data, and organizational culture.
"There is no singular or ‘right’ way to engage in race equity work," explain the authors. But Equity in the Center provides actionable steps your organization can take towards that goal. Naming race equity work as a strategic imperative for your organization is central among those steps. "Define and communicate how race equity connects to your mission, vision, organizational values, and strategies," points out the report.
The authors also break down the understanding of a race equity culture and the nature of the work required to create and sustain such a culture within an institution. The importance of this philosophy is stressed throughout the study:
Organizations that intentionally infuse their strategy with race equity and use it as a key operational driver can weaken structural racism and, through a race-conscious lens, broaden the reach of their work to long-marginalized individuals. The impact of these efforts will reverberate not only within the populations served by social sector organizations, but also within the organizations themselves.