Did you know that Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawai’i, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky has an Equity Team?
Within the past decade, PPGNHAIK has come to prioritize an equity focus and take concrete steps to address racism and cissexism, both in and out of the organization. The Equity team started as a committee in 2011 and was founded as an official team in 2017.
In collaboration with BIPOC and LGBTQ staff, the Equity team worked to center the people most impacted by injustice. In 2017, the first trans affirming workshops were held and Mind Sciences trainings (addressing implicit bias, racial anxiety, microaggressions and stereotype threat) were implemented for leadership. In 2018, internal employee caucusing groups were established to facilitate safe, ongoing conversations around racial equity, and an Equity Plan for the organization was created. The team was key in gender affirming hormone care being first offered in Alaska, Hawai’i, Washington and Idaho that same year. The following year in 2019, the team collaborated with equity committee members and released an Equity Style Guide for internal and external communications and made Mind Sciences training available virtually.
The Equity and Inclusion Tool has been applied to a variety of situations organization-wide since its launch. It is used to not only determine how Planned Parenthood can best serve all patients, but also with a mind towards how volunteers and community partners are included.
Within the past two years, the Equity team implemented curriculum training for volunteers covering abortion values clarification, implicit bias and bystander intervention, as well as embedding volunteer programs within the Equity team.
“The volunteer program is beginning to flourish,” said Dr. Damarys Espinoza, Director of Equity and Inclusion. “We are working to build connections, a strong coordination of systems, and share resources.”
She added that with the changes to the volunteer program, the organization can provide more support for volunteers and have a more cohesive and organized volunteer base.
When asked what the Equity team is working on for the future, Dr. Espinoza emphasized the equity governance structure: “We are forming three bodies to guide strategic planning for the organization. These will be an Equity Council, an Affiliate Equity Committee, and a Community Equity Committee.”
The Equity Council will be made up of organizational leadership, the Affiliate Equity Committee will be made up of organizational staff across departments, and the Community Equity Committee will be made up of community members offering perspective and guidance.
“These three bodies will guide strategic planning and organizational decisions,” Espinoza said. “They will also create accountability and transparency in leadership.”
Espinoza said there will be a call for applicants for the committees next month into 2022.
“There is a broader strategy for community partnerships,” she said. “In 2022, outreach will bring in volunteers outside of traditional volunteers, working with a broad range of people. We have to ask: Who are we engaging now? Who are we leaving out?”
Espinoza highlighted that the organization must be careful to be mindful of our presence and actions within communities, not only currently but of what we have done, said, and represented in the past. “We need to have relationships in place that demonstrate our intent to build towards equity, and we need to know when to show up, sometimes in the lead, sometimes following.”
She noted that there has been a lot of invisible labor to get us to this point. “For every milestone and project mentioned, there has been labor both visible and invisible.”