Equity Lens Conversation - Why an Equity Lens

Equity Lens Conversation

Why an Equity Lens?

Introduction: Building Equity Together

Often one of the hardest things to do in the context of an institution is to realize and admit that previous approaches to accomplishing work have not been successful and, as a result, new approaches will be needed. In the process of assessing our previous five year plan in 2016, the Diversity Council decided that the structure and scope of our previous work plans had not been as successful as anticipated in moving vital work forward. As a result, we agreed that we needed to narrow the scope and shift the focus of the work in order to be more successful in the next five year plan.

The Diversity Council also realized that there would be value in moving away from the language of “diversity” and toward a language of "equity." “Diversity” has become a catch-all phrase that functions as a box on a checklist rather than as a meaningful, systemic tool. It has become so broadly focused that it cannot help the college recruit, retain, and be genuinely inclusive of a diverse student body and staff.

Meanwhile, as the diversity council did more research, it discovered that several city and state institutions concerned about inclusion and fairness were starting to frame their work through equity lenses, so the Diversity Council began to examine this as an option for Lane. In many of the lenses already created, the language of access, equity, and inclusion had moved the conversation beyond the language of diversity. These lenses also provided a clear framework for action that guided institutions to effectively and strategically move equity-related work forward. After much discussion, we decided that there would be immense value in working together as a campus to create our own Equity Lens.

We found that the equity lenses already in existence tended to have a singular focus on equity, usually racial equity, and that in academic institutions, they tended to focus only on students. Because we wanted to ensure that our work helped build equity for both employees and students, we decided to not limit the scope of our Equity Lens to a student-only focus. We also decided that it was significant for us to build an "intersectional lens" that ensures equity across multiple areas--such as gender, class, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, etc--rather than focus just on racial equity alone.

Last year, the Diversity Council worked on creating some of the foundational pieces necessary to begin crafting Lane’s Equity Lens. Now we are inviting you--employees and students of Lane--to help us create and implement an Equity Lens that will ensure that our employees and students gain greater equity at and across this institution. Lane’s Equity Lens will be used to reassess systems and decision-making to achieve access, equity, and inclusion on a college-wide level. We invite each of you to participate actively in the forums, surveys, discussions, workgroups, and meetings that will follow over the coming five years to develop, implement, and assess Lane’s Equity Lens. The institution and each of us will benefit, personally, professionally, and academically from this work. We look forward to working with each of you to build equity at Lane!