Deep equity, in practice, means continually transforming ourselves, our relationships, and the structures and systems needed to make love, dignity, and justice real for organizations, networks, and the planet.
tree roots with green growth

Advancing Deep Equity

Photo credit: Tony Fischer | CC BY 2.0Photo credit: Tony Fischer | CC BY 2.0Deep equity encompasses: honoring differences; recognizing the impact our identities and positions have on our individual and collective experiences; focusing on relationships and whole beings with multiple identities; addressing trauma and healing; eliminating systemic disparities; and transforming structures, systems, processes, and cultures.

The pursuit of deep equity is a long overdue expansion from primarily aiming for “diverse” staff, boards, and constituents, and is essential for creating the conditions necessary for advancing equitable organizations, networks, justice, and liberation.

For many years, the Alameda County Public Health Department’s thinking about race had been framed around diversity and inclusion, focusing on including women and people of color in the department’s staff and leadership. Then the department began examining how equity issues interacted with the root causes of health problems in the county. They saw that heavily African American communities suffered disproportionate health challenges, and realized that getting to the bottom of why this might be the case meant examining how issues such as transportation, housing, and air quality—all issues intertwined with histories of racial bias and discrimination—were affecting the wellbeing of county residents. Looking at the health data with race equity in mind meant changing the way the health department designed its programs and whom it served.

Kimi Watkins-Tartt of the Alameda County Public Health Department says, “The diversity and inclusion approach really is very focused on diversity and inclusion inside of the workforce. That’s a part of a racial equity lens, but a racial equity approach doesn’t stop there. We also then are talking to the people that are impacted by the issues we’re dealing with. I would say that this new initiative is allowing us the opportunity to be more explicit about how racism plays a role in creating the social inequalities that are actually driving the health disparities.” For more on this story, please refer to our article, Pursuing Deep Equity, in the Nonprofit Quarterly. 

Photo credit: Eugene Eric KimPhoto credit: Eugene Eric KimWe believe that committing to deep equity includes recognizing privilege and oppression present in society; understanding one’s relationship to privilege and oppression; and forming authentic alliances among people who experience both oppression and privilege to transform society, recognizing the centrality of the leadership of people who are marginalized in that process. There are multiple levels of transformation necessary in advancing deep equity: internal/individual change; interpersonal relations; institutional (including cross-institutional and network) change; and systemic transformation.


Feature photo credit: Jose Nicdao | CC BY 2.0

Deep Equity in Action

Building Movement Project’s Race to Lead Research

One aspect of advancing deep equity is revealing systems to themselves. Building Movement Project’s Race to Lead series does this by revealing the racial leadership gap in the nonprofit sector, and challenging the way the sector has been approaching it.

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Co-creators Advancing Deep Equity

We partner with many inspiring people committed to advancing the deep equity practices of individuals, organizations, networks, and the field. Here we name just a few.

Equitable Evaluation Initiative

A five year initiative that seeks to shift the evaluation paradigm so that it becomes a tool for and of equity for those that have placed equity as core to their work.

The Meyer Foundation

The Meyer Foundation uses its resources, networks, and voice to advance a vision of equity across the Greater Washington region, including greater racial equity in housing, education, employment, and asset building.

Equity in the Center

Equity in the Center works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems within the social sector to increase racial equity.