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The Case For A Shared Outcomes Measurement Framework for DEI Initiatives by Quisha Brown

Hello, AEA365 community! Liz DiLuzio here, Lead Curator of the blog. This week is Individuals Week, which means we take a break from our themed weeks and spotlight the Hot Tips, Cool Tricks, Rad Resources and Lessons Learned from any evaluator interested in sharing. Would you like to contribute to future individuals weeks? Email me at AEA365@eval.org with an idea or a draft and we will make it happen.

Hi, I’m Quisha Brown, co-founder of Humanistic Care, LLC, an organization offering culturally responsive solutions to tough evaluation challenges. A recent AEA365 blog post titled “Applying Rubrics in Evaluation” by Gerard Atkinson caught my attention with its discussion on the benefits of using rubrics in evaluation. The Progressive Outcomes Scale Logic Model (POSLM) framework I developed in 2020 is one such evaluation model which uses a stage model rubric approach to measure outcomes towards social impact progressively using a common set of indicators. During my 20+ years working with nonprofits serving marginalized communities and 3 years helping them to create POSLMs, I’ve compiled over 200+ common person-centered equity indicators which derived from direct feedback shared with me by people most impacted by inequitable practices. 

From my perspective, creating a common set of equity indicators for organizations to adhere to could be a useful step in addressing inequity on a broader scale. Such indicators can help ensure that organizations are actively working towards equity and inclusion in their programs and initiatives. I’d like you to use your imagination for a moment. Close your eyes and imagine a lead organization using input from the community to create a common set of indicators which provides guidance to the organizations they lead in knowing exactly what indicators they should be measuring to improve diversity, equity and inclusion. What do you think? Could this improve the ability to address inequities on a broader scale?

There are several reasons it most definitely could. First, a common set of equity indicators provides a standardized framework for evaluating DEI efforts. It ensures that all organizations are held accountable for their commitment to addressing racial disparities and promoting equity. Furthermore, having a shared set of indicators helps nonprofits understand what specific outcomes they should aim for in their equity work. This clarity can lead to more focused and effective strategies to address disparities.

Secondly, with standardized indicators, data from different organizations becomes more comparable. This facilitates learning across organizations and the identification of successful approaches to equity and poverty alleviation. Additionally, a common set of indicators allows funders and policymakers to allocate resources strategically. They can direct funding to organizations that demonstrate effective approaches and a commitment to equity.

Third, standardized indicators which are based directly on input from targeted communities can promote inclusivity and representation by ensuring that the needs and experiences of marginalized communities are considered and addressed systematically. Also, a shared framework encourages collaboration and partnerships among organizations, as they are all working towards common goals; thereby diminishing the age-old silo mentality which we see with many nonprofits today. A shared framework can lead to a more coordinated and synergistic effort to tackle poverty and disparities.

Finally, adhering to a common set of indicators can enhance public trust in nonprofits’ work. It demonstrates a commitment to transparency and accountability in addressing equity issues. Data collected through standardized indicators can be used to inform evidence-based policy decisions. Policymakers, in-turn, can leverage this data to design more effective interventions and allocate public resources more efficiently.

As you can see there are several benefits to developing a common set of equity indicators. However, it is crucial to recognize that a common set of indicators alone cannot solve the complex and deeply rooted issues of poverty and inequities. While standardized equity indicators and rubrics can be valuable tools, they should be part of a broader, comprehensive strategy such as the POSLM which involves collaboration, community engagement, and systemic change to achieve meaningful and lasting impact in equity.

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.

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