Leadership is central to any work in eliminating disparities and reducing disproportionality.
Leaders must create a vision to focus attention on what the agency is committed to do and how it
should be held accountable. Leaders in an organization must shape the disparities and
disproportionality conversation to help staff understand the phenomenon. They set the tone for how
staff perceive, feel about, and react to the issues. Leadership facilitates trust among staff to
allow open communication by means of relationship building and creating a sense of safety. Finally,
leaders must assess their own beliefs, strengths, and challenges on how they will deal with issues
of race and racial inequities. Such an effort involves an awareness of the political risks they are
willing to take, their ability to mobilize others and gain a critical mass of support, and their
ability to build capacity around eliminating disparities and reducing disproportionality.
Leaders must embrace organizational values on these issues and visibly act on them. It is their
responsibility to see that adequate resources and capacities are used to accomplish the work.
Specifically, leadership must:
- Build public will for reducing disproportionality and eliminating disparities among agency staff and external service partners.
- Foster a safe environment, atmosphere and culture that encourage all levels of staff to have genuine and sometimes uncomfortable conversations about race and racial inequities.
- Develop leadership to hire and retain culturally competent staff across all levels – meaning staff members that are able to effectively engage and interact with families from various backgrounds. (For example, a hiring question might ask: “Why are people poor”?)
- Develop ways to measure worker performance regarding their ability to serve families of diverse backgrounds (e.g., race, ethnicity, sexual orientation) using data. For instance, the data might be based on a staff’s handling of a hotline call or decision to open a case.
- Develop a plan for training on disproportionality and disparity that addresses how new staff will be trained and how to meet the training needs of current staff.
- Act affirmatively to address staff who use their power of position to discriminate against others.
- Engage the staff as appropriate in the planning and implementing of activities to encourage staff investment in eliminating disparities and reducing disproportionality.
- Frame the issue clearly and develop a strategic plan for eliminating disparities and reducing disproportionality. Promote legislative changes on the issue as needed for regulatory and policy support.
- Share responsibility through meaningful collaboration with other stakeholders (such as other human service and community agencies) across systems.
- Ensure that agency actions on the issue are based on data, focused on child and family needs, and demonstrate results. ure that service array is available and of high-quality.
- Value the uniqueness of each family and their input.