Government Must Be Part of the Solution

Promoting racial equity requires the reorganization of government institutions around a collective effort to close existing disparities in outcomes among people of color.

Reviewed by Daniel Estupinan


Throughout the history of the United States, government institutions at the local, state, and federal role have played a key role in designing and implementing policies that created and sustained racial inequities. These policies and practices have contributed to the chronic inequality of opportunity and outcomes that continue to adversely impact communities of color. Yet, while the United States has made progress in promoting varying degrees of racial equity, there are a wide range of policies that continue to perpetuate long-standing racial inequities.

To address these disparities, it is critical to recognize the potential role that each level of government can play in promoting racial equity. In doing so, institutions must ensure they are operating with a common racial equity framework that provides internal stakeholders with a common understanding of individual, institutional, and structural racism. At the same time, government institutions must have both the capacity to implement data-driven institutional change and the ability to define, track, and assess metrics of success over time.

These findings are provided by Erika Bernabei, Ph.D., who is the Founder and Co-Principal of Equity and Results, LLC. Since 2016, Dr. Bernabei has focused on building the capacity of organizations seeking to improve outcomes in communities of color.

Methods and Findings

Before developing a Results-Based Accountability framework, organizations must ensure they are centering racial equity as the primary lens through which institutional change must take place. Once racial equity is recognized as the central driver of institutional change, stakeholders must ensure they are using rigorous data-collection and analysis as a key tool in their decision-making process. Using this data, organizations can maintain transparent institutional cultures where activities are guided by measurable metrics of evaluation.

When relying on the Results-Based Accountability framework, it is critical that organizations first identify the impact they are striving for and use those goals to develop the strategies they will ultimately pursue. This process disrupts existing norms within the organization and allows it to pursue a greater degree of racial equity. Upon establishing the organization’s initial vision for racial equity in a specific community, it is important to assess whether the organization’s goals  align with that communities’ perception of well-being. To do so, organizations must use a narrow range of community indicators that reflect on the most critical needs of each specific community, while using these indicators to provide greater insight into the root causes of existing racial inequities.

Upon identifying these root causes, public institutions must then collaborate with a wide range of partners that have skills and resources that may contribute in enhancing the impact of potential strategies. At the same time, it is critical for institutions to draw on community knowledge in designing a variety of innovative or evidence-based strategies that challenge existing policies sustaining structural racism. These strategies should align with a range of criteria that ensures they are culturally relevant, feasible, and specific in what they are intended to achieve.


After an institution has completed the process of framing their intended impact, they are ready to proceed in designing an action plan that is crafted to address existing racial inequities. This process begins with identifying the stakeholders who will be impacted by proposed strategies and aligning the impact those strategies are intended to generate. Using performance measures to evaluate the impact of those proposed strategies is also critical in sustaining an institutional culture of accountability. In doing so, institutions are not only held accountable for producing high-quality results, but also make progress in restoring trust between public institutions and communities of color.

Throughout this process, it is critical that institutions consistently engage in rigorous data-analysis that provides greater insight into the impact of existing strategies. These data are important in not only measuring the effectiveness of a strategy in disrupting the status-quo, but also in identifying potential partners with the skills or resources needed to expand upon that impact.

Completing these steps allows organizations to design the approach they will take in implementing their plan for achieving racial equity. This process entails assigning areas of responsibility to certain staff members, allocating resources to proposed strategies, and determining the role that community members should play in crafting those strategies. Building authentic engagements with communities ensures that institutions are actively empowering communities that have borne the brunt of this nation’s long-standing history of sustained racial inequity.


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