What are equity and inclusivity?
We call ourselves program evaluators with focuses on equity and inclusivity, but what do those two words mean?
Both of these words have different meanings and connotations for different people and populations. Oxford Dictionary defines equity as "the quality of being fair and impartial" ( https://www.lexico.com /en/definition/equity). Cambridge defines it as "equal treatment; fairness" (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/equity). Inclusivity is defined as "the practice or policy of including people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized, such as those who have physical or mental disabilities and members of minority groups" ( https://www.lexico.com /en/definition/inclusivity). Similarly, Cambridge Dictionary defines inclusivity as " the quality of trying to include many different types of people and treat them all fairly and equally" ( https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/ dictionary/english/inclusivity)
After deep thought and reflection, we feel that these definitions are, in some ways, over simplistic. To us, equity is more related to it's opposite, inequity, which we see as a systemic issue. Inequity can be seen in situations where not all people or communities are served by or benefit from the programming or in their work environment due to structural barriers. Equity is the state in which these systemic inequalities or structural barriers are removed. We see inclusivity as the solution by which all people benefit from opportunities such as programming or work environments equally. Moving toward equity and inclusivity for all requires focused work alongside, by, and for communities that face inequities and structural barriers. Only through focused and united effort can we have a truly just society.