What is Equitable Evaluation?
Cultural competence, multi-cultural validity, applying an equity lens, these are all central concepts to a relatively new approach to evaluation—equitable evaluation (EE). So, just what is EE? The answer is, it is complicated. At a base level, EE is evaluation work that strives to limit inequality, bias, and oppression in race, gender, ability, and a myriad of other areas. This approach embraces diversity, inclusion, justice, and multiculturalism throughout the evaluation process. As equitable evaluation is a burgeoning field, there are no definitive answers yet about how to fully approach evaluation through an equity lens.
While the implementation of EE is relatively new, a big first step is for evaluators to understand their own biases about the communities and populations they are evaluating by learning the history and context of the communities and people they are serving. Evaluators need to engage in deep self-reflection, recognize their own privilege, listen to voices different from theirs, employ diverse evaluation teams, and engage diverse stakeholders to ensure a complete picture of the community and population being evaluated. The focus of an equitable approach to evaluation is not to eliminate differences and make all things equal—equity is not equality. Rather it is to understand that inequalities exist, bias exists, and then try and improve evaluation practices and outcomes. Incorporating equity into evaluation practice is incredibly important. But defining clear guidelines of how to best engage in equitable evaluation is a work in progress. So, to help you have a better understanding of this new approach, Part Two of this blog series will highlight what the experts in the field are saying, how they are and aren’t defining equitable evaluation, the key points of using an equity lens, and what resources are out there to further the conversation about this invaluable new approach to evaluation work.
The bottom line is that evaluators need to make certain that their evaluation practices are not reinforcing the inequities in the populations and communities they are evaluating. Despite the unknowns, it is clear that conducting EE is critical to the validity and reliability of the field.
For more information on EE or if you have any follow-up questions to this blog post, or any other research and evaluation needs, please feel free to contact Dr. Annette Shtivelband (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Special thanks to Mindi Wisman for writing this blog post!
Considerations for Conducting Evaluation Using a Culturally Responsive and Racial Equity Lens, Public Policy Associates, Inc., 2015. http://publicpolicy.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/PPA-Culturally-Responsive-Lens.pdf
Embracing Equity: 7 Steps to Advance and Embed Race Equality and Inclusion Within Your Organization Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2014
Equitable Evaluation Initiative, https://www.equitableeval.org