Hi! I’m Chad E. Kee, Ph.D., CEO and Founder of WhitworthKee Consulting, LLC. The COVID-19 pandemic and police brutality leading to the death of yet another Black person, George Floyd, are highlighting—yet again—systemic racism that exists in our society. As a Black male, I am disturbed by the current state of our society and find myself looking for opportunities to be part of the change. I am compelled to use my research and evaluation platform, as a small business owner in Washington, D.C., to advance social justice.
In this climate, it is of great importance to identify spaces to counter injustice and support social justice efforts. As a result, I invite independent consultants to consider and create intentional opportunities to use evaluation as a tool for social justice. My research and evaluation services often examine equitable practices within organizations. I would like to call attention to the impact an evaluation can have on advancing social justice efforts through three practices: incorporating ongoing and active participatory analysis, demonstrating behaviors and an attitude of care, and adopting an equity mindset.
Participatory analysis practices offer many benefits to an evaluation. Such practices increase stakeholder ownership of the data, empower stakeholder voices, and create space to share lived experiences. Alvarez and colleagues advanced the notion of Participatory Impact Pathways Analysis (PIPA), defined as, “…engaging stakeholders in a structured participatory process, promoting learning, and providing a framework for ‘action research’ on processes of change.” PIPA creates the space for change that can lead to advancing social justice efforts by impacting an individual, group of people, or community outcomes in positive ways.
An evaluator demonstrates care by identifying, accepting, and adopting the ways that everyone is connected as humans and co-exists in society. Tronto and Fisher, Toward a Feminist Theory of Caring, presented the idea that interconnectedness across communities is a standard of ethics that can be used to guide an evaluation with care. Considering the politicized context in which evaluators work, Visse and Abma argued in their book, Evaluation for a Caring Society, that applying an ethical practice of caring can foster evaluations that advance social justice efforts. Evaluators are encouraged to prioritize the humanistic value and nature of the work while not allowing politics, personal biases, and money to influence the methodological approach and subsequent reporting of findings.
In Iseke-Barnes & Wane’s book, Equity in Schools and Society, an equity mindset is defined as acknowledging diverse histories, sociology, cultural expressions, theory, and more when examining issues that affect access to resources. When evaluators adopt an equity mindset, they are less likely to cause harm and more likely to construct culturally responsive and socially just evaluations. An equity mindset creates a greater sense of thoughtfulness and respect for those involved and leads to asking critical questions that may be uncomfortable but are necessary to advance social justice efforts in evaluation practice.
As an independent consultant and evaluator, I believe that our work has far reaching implications and the potential to change attitudes, enhance the lived experiences of marginalized communities, and promote social justice.
The American Evaluation Association is celebrating IC TIG Week with our colleagues in the Independent Consulting Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our IC TIG 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.