I joined Center for Health Progress three years ago. In that time, we have made significant, intentional, organizational change to be more equitable from the inside out. In order to demand justice in the health care system, we too have to examine and dismantle the systems, structures, and policies that perpetuate injustice within our own institution. As individuals, we also have to look inward to see how our identities impact how we show up in our work; after all, institutions are made by and held up by people. As a white, cisgender, educated, able-bodied person, I have to examine and address the ways that these privileged identities impact my life and my work at Center for Health Progress. We outlined this in our health equity commitment and we strive to embody it in how we do our work. Later this year, we will revisit and refine this commitment to reflect our growth as an organization. It is an ongoing journey, and we (and I) do not always get it right.
One of the structures that has supported organizational change is our Collective Liberation Committee (CLC). The CLC has taken different shapes since it began. For the first two years, interested staff met monthly with our incredible equity consultants, angéll perez and Olga Gonzalez to pursue anti-oppression learning and seek their expert guidance on proposed structural and policy changes. More recently, the CLC developed three sub-committees: trainings, team building, and policy, each of which have a different charge in planning and implementing organizational change. Maggie Gomez, Chris Lyttle, and I are on the policy sub-committee and have taken leadership to change, rebuild, and develop the structures that impact Center for Health Progress’s most valuable internal assets--its people!! Here are a few of the changes we have made over the past year:
- Revamping our employee handbook (thanks to invaluable recommendations from CIRCLE and examples from our partners, including UNE), most notably by building equity into our various leave policies, including flex time and parental leave
- Restructuring our hiring process by mitigating implicit bias throughout, removing unnecessary educational requirements, providing more transparency to applicants concerning timeline and salary, and adding a pay increase for staff who are bilingual in languages essential to our work
- Redesigning our annual performance review process based on feedback from staff and examples from The Management Center
Most recently, the CLC policy committee started putting together a list of equity-related learning materials that will be part of the onboarding process for new staff. This practice was inspired by the work that CIRCLE did with Colorado Children’s Campaign and Colorado Center on Law and Policy to intentionally ensure equity was a component of onboarding. Here are a few of the pieces that we are including:
- Definitions of common health equity terms (e.g. power, privilege, oppression, racism, white supremacy)
- The myth of race, debunked in 3 minutes from Vox
- White Supremacy Culture by Tema Okun
These are tools that have been ongoing parts of our work at Center for Health Progress. I also personally refer to the third document to deepen my own understanding and analysis of how my words, actions, and beliefs perpetuate white supremacy. My work will never be done and I am actively practicing disrupting the harmful ways that my whiteness manifests in my work and life and stands in the way of working toward justice.
While all of the progress Center for Health Progress has made is important, it is not enough to just change a policy, watch a movie, or read a document. We cannot to-do list our way to undoing systems of oppression or train our way to health and racial equity. As Chris said in a recent post, “Anti-racism is a way of being, not a declaration.” We also have to continue to disrupt the status quo, invest in the leadership of people most impacted by inequities, and build a truly multiracial movement for health equity in Colorado. At Center for Health Progress, we are doing just that and we hope you join us. It will take all of us to work toward justice and health for all Coloradans.