GBEN Affiliate Week: Equitable Decision Making by Ben Faust, Min Ma, and Kathleen Sullivan

Hi, we are Ben Faust, Min Ma, and Kathleen Sullivan, representing the Greater Boston Evaluation Network (GBEN) where we serve as members of GBEN’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Committee. As part of the equity component of GBEN’s strategic plan you read about earlier in the week, we developed principles to guide equitable decision-making in GBEN structures, activities, programs, and positions.  To do this, we identified and discussed DEI principles and guidelines developed by other organizations. We drew on those resources to draft a series of equity-informed questions that GBEN decision makers can use before and after implementation of a service or activity.   


We wanted these questions and the improvements they inspire to support equity among GBEN members and membership, as well as across GBEN structures, activities, programs, and positions. We expect this process to spark important discussions and reflections among our current members and to provide newer members access to the evolution of our priorities and rationale.


Our guiding questions are organized in two sections: “before” key decisions are made, and “after.” We ask the “before” questions to consider the equity implications of a decision and to identify what, if anything, is preventing us from promoting equity more effectively. We ask the “after” questions to reflect on the assumptions we used to inform our decision and cite areas of improvement for decision makers and the organization.  

Guiding Questions for?Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion 

Before a Key* Decision is Made, we Ask: 

  • Involvement: Who is involved in making this decision and why? Who isn’t involved in this decision and is there anything we can do to account for their perspectives? 
  • Benefit: Who will benefit from these different options? Who will find it easier to participate/learn? 
  • Target Population Barriers: Who might encounter barriers and how can we mitigate them? Who will have to do more work because of these different options? 
  • Specific issues of equity: How will different options affect the current and future participation and experience of? 
    • members/evaluators of color?? 
    • members/evaluators with limited access to financial resources? 
    • members/evaluators within other systematically excluded groups, ex. folks with disabilities? 
    • How can we improve participation/experience for these groups? What trade-offs do we choose to make and why? 
  • Systemic Barriers: What, if anything, is it about GBEN or us as decision makers that limits our ability to make this service, activity, or opportunity more equitable? 

After a Key Decision is Implemented, we Ask: 

  • Implementation: To what extent was this decision carried out as intended? If something didn’t work as planned, why was that?  
  • Benefit: Who benefited from this decision? Who found it easier to participate/learn? 
  • Barriers: Who encountered barriers? Who did more work?
  • Specific issues of equity: How did different options affect the participation and experience of:? 
    • members/evaluators of color?? 
    • members/evaluators with limited access to financial resources? 
    • members/evaluators with other systematically excluded groups, ex. folks with disabilities? 
  • What now?: What can we do now to correct any power or resource imbalances that resulted from this decision? 
  • For the future: How will we use what we learned to improve equity for GBEN members, and evaluators who participate in GBEN programs

* A “key” decision is one that is expected to have a substantial effect on the experience of someone who is participating or might participate in GBEN and identifies as part of a systemically excluded group.

Rad Resources  

Hot Tip:

Pilot your guiding questions on a specific action or event  and use feedback from the process to make the set of questions right-sized

Hot Tip:

Use these (or similar) guiding questions as part of your agenda for planning an event or an after-action review.

The American Evaluation Association is hosting the Greater Boston Evaluation Network (GBEN) Affiliate Week. The contributions all this week to AEA365 come from GBEN members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this AEA365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the AEA365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an AEA365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to AEA365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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