SIM TIG Week: Tips for Examining and Addressing Inequity by Heather Esper

Hi – I’m Heather Esper of the William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan. One of the most critical moments in my time with AEA came during a plenary at the 2017 annual conference focused on Dialogue on Race and Class in America. I find myself going back to my notes from this session often.

The session called for us to take up more space as evaluators in decisions related to race, class and inequity. It proposed that, as evaluators, we have a responsibility to educate the client, and that we should judge our success as evaluators on what others learn from us. It challenged us to not let the client off the hook to think about their program narrowly, but rather as an intervention that has community level consequences.

Since then I’ve sought ways to apply the ideas raised in the plenary to the international and impact investing work I do by focusing on inequities encountered regularly in my evaluation practice. Inequities such as gender, income, ethnicity, education, access to a number of services and resources to name a few. Below I share some ideas (many gained from AEA) around using data to improve awareness of inequity, and to identify cases and the effects of inequity:

Additional Rad Resources:

I invite you to share what skills or resources have helped you change your evaluation practice around race, class and more broadly inequity in the comments section below so we can all continue to learn and grow together.


The American Evaluation Association is hosting Social Impact Measurement Week with our colleagues in the Social Impact Measurement Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our SIM 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 aea365@eval.org. 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.

2 thoughts on “SIM TIG Week: Tips for Examining and Addressing Inequity by Heather Esper”

  1. Hello Heather,
    The options that you presented to find a way to better evaluate inequity between groups are interesting. Using cultural guides from whatever social group is being evaluated is definitely a smart way to pinpoint what problems are necessary to address for that specific group and to try and find a solution the people would actually try to follow through that program.

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