The equity self study uses self-reflection and perspective sharing to define equity and the context around it.



Each participant completes a written reflection responding to the prompts below.

Organizational Equity Self-Study: Part One Self-Reflection

  • Consider the following questions first individually:
    1. How do you define equity? How do you think your definition is informed by your lived experience?
    2. How would you describe your organization’s commitment to equity? What do you understand to be the origins of this commitment?
    3. To what extent do you feel a sense of alignment between your organization’s commitment and your own values and commitment to equity? Examples?
    4. Where do you experience any disconnects between your own commitment and the organization’s values or practices? How do you navigate these disconnects?
    5. What is your experience of how the organization talks about, approaches, or deals with issues of equity? What assets does your organization have from which to strengthen its equity leadership? What are some of the challenges you see?
    6. How do you think your identity (role, race, gender, time in org, etc.) impacts how you navigate any disconnects or challenges you may experience with the organization’s equity efforts?
    7. What is the contribution you most want to make to the organization’s efforts toward equity? Why is this important to you?
    8. If you could make one recommendation to the organization for what is most needed to strengthen its equity impact, what would that be? 

PART TWO: Appreciative Interview

Each participant conducts an appreciative interview with another colleague within their organization (preferably not on the core team) asking that colleague to respond to the same reflection prompts. Interviewer takes notes to capture the thoughts and perspectives of interviewee.

  • Special Note on the Appreciative Interview: To the extent possible, please conduct your interview with someone across at least one of the following differences: race, gender, age, role, time in the organization, etc. The goal of this experience is to listen deeply to understand the experiences and perspectives of a colleague. You do not need to agree with or dispute what you hear; your task is to simply listen for understanding.

PART 3: DEBRIEF (Pair share, Triad, or Whole Group)

Following the interview, each participant considers and writes responses to the Process Debrief Prompts.

Organizational Equity Self-Study Process Debrief Prompts:

  1. What thoughts or feelings came up for you as you answered and asked these questions?
  2. What was it like to listen and learn about a colleague’s experiences and perspectives?
  3. What similarities and/or differences stood out to you in terms of how you and your colleague responded to the prompts?
  4. What questions did this process raise for you?
  5. What might be a next step for you and/or the organization to deepen this investigation and strengthen internal capacity for equity leadership?

Preconditions for Success

  • Commitment to equity as a priority and willingness to engage in meaningful self reflection.
  • A degree of trust among individuals participating in the debrief and appreciative interviews to ensure that reflection happens in a safe space where individuals are encouraged to learn rather than judged for making mistakes or being “wrong.”

Connection to Equity

The Equity Self Study activity brings conversations about equity to the forefront, allowing individuals to not only define what equity means to them personally but also comparing their definitions with those of others within their organization. This activity leads to perspective sharing among different individuals within an organization and provides a safe space in which individuals can examine how their own conceptions of equity align with those of the organization and different individuals within the organization.

Evidence of Effectiveness

“This was a powerful activity for me. It enabled space for really candid, personal reflections and conversations about the role of equity in our personal, professional, and organizational identities. Conversations that may happen frequently behind the scenes, but don’t (yet) typically feel safe to have in our shared professional space. Two possible reasons for this that were clearly articulated in at least a couple of interviews: 1) the organization is working to better define its equity philosophy, what exactly it strives for in terms of its own internal equity, and how these positions can or should frame the work we do. 2) Individuals find that the personal, professional, and organizational equity identities are often in flux and in tension, pulled in a variety of directions based on personal identity and experience, professional history and aspirations, and roles and responsibilities within the organization. Decisions about how far and in which directions to push equity agendas (which?, whose?), both externally and internally, are complicated by these tensions. The interviews served as a powerful early step to bring discussions about these challenges front and center at [our organization]. I look forward to the ways that participation in the BELE-N as well as our work with the National Equity Project can continue to help us with this critical work.”

“It was incredibly helpful to me to listen and learn from another person’s perspective about these issues. I was struck by how differently my interviewee and I saw many issues, and this made me realize that because we are an equity-focused organization, it is quite easy to assume (erroneously) that our organization is a monolith when it comes to questions about the definition of equity, how it is and is not reflected in our organizational culture, how important this is, and how an agenda for developing organizational equity should be executed (and by whom). For example, my interviewee centered most of his reflection around our organization’s external impact, while most of my reflections were around our internal culture. This difference of focus seemed to stem both from our roles in the organization and potentially also from our distinct identities, and how they played out in the context of our work environment. I felt acutely aware of our identity differences, and as such, had a heightened attention to whether my interviewee felt comfortable and safe participating in the dialogue. I think it would be incredibly helpful to replicate this experience across the organization.”

Preferred Citation

Prepared by the National Equity Project Winter 2017