Equity Policy Analysis Checklist Primer

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E Pluribus Unum was created on the belief that the United States must confront the issue of race head-on if we are to move forward as a country. This is especially true in the American South. 

At the same time, EPU’s work is race-focused but not race-exclusive. The work to reverse inequity, in all its forms, requires a variety of approaches and partners.

A key piece of our work is to help public officials and community leaders analyze their current and future policies and programs through equity lenses. Our data shows that when leaders  prioritize equity, communities as a whole are more prosperous. 

Do you have a policy or program that you want to assess for its effect on equity? If so, this toolkit is for you.

First, we’ll explain what an equity policy analysis is and who might want to use one.

Next, we’ll share a checklist to help you incorporate an equity analysis at each step of policy development. This will include tips and tricks to strengthen your policies by adding language regarding inequities. 

Finally, we’ll help you review your policies for places you may need to remove or edit language that could have unintended consequences on underserved communities.

We’ll also share contact information for how you can get free, direct support from EPU and its expert Senior policy advisors   

Equity Policy Analysis Checklist: The 5Ws

It is a tool to assess a policy or program for equity—or inequities. You can consider an equity policy analysis as part of your team’s equity “toolbox.” The goal of that toolbox is to build policies that always incorporate an equity perspective.

Anyone! This framework can be used by anyone that seeks to advance equity. That includes, but is not limited to, legislators and their staff, equity advocates, and community leaders. 

Collaboration is key here. We recommend that you ask multiple individuals who represent a variety of backgrounds and perspectives to review this checklist. Then, your answers will reflect diverse views, socioeconomic status, and values.

Early and often. That’s how you’ll be able to embed equity in the policy process from the beginning, rather than as an afterthought once a policy has been finalized.

Anywhere! Or, to make it more specific: any policy, program, or organization where you’re developing or examining policies that could impact individual, structural, or systemic inequities. Note: that could be a positive impact or a negative impact.

Here are some examples of common places you might use this: 

  • Federal policy creation
  • State policy creation
  • Local policy creation
  • Inside organizations examining policies that they would like to advance or implement

Heightened awareness, greater clarity, and increased collaboration. When you use an equity policy framework, you can: 

  • Normalize conversations on equity 
  • Activate analysis of equity on a current or future policy by examining benefits and burdens, resource allocation, data collection, stakeholder engagement, and feedback 
  • Enhance goal-setting by establishing clear outcomes and objectives
  • Operationalize change around equity by providing the tools to track change and evaluate progress on equity strategies

Equity Policy Analysis

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First, you and your team can engage in the “pre-work” of clarifying people’s initial knowledge of the proposed policy. We recommend asking questions where your team or respondents can rank their knowledge of the policy (e.g. low, medium, high) in several areas. 

Examples of “pre-work” questions: 

  • What is the desired outcome of the policy?
  • What groups would benefit from or be burdened by this policy?
  • Have the groups that will be affected by this proposed policy been engaged in the policy development process? If so, how were these groups engaged in the process? If not, will these groups be engaged at a later date?
  • What types of data will be needed to assess the impact of this policy?
  • What additional resources, if any, could help to assess the policy’s impact on equity?

There are multiple steps to creating a policy. At each one, we recommend an equity analysis. Here are examples of the steps you might take to create a policy and questions you might ask at that step to consider equity.  You can also download a PDF version of the Equity Policy Analysis Checklist.

  1. Policy Goal
    1. What is the goal of your proposed policy? 
    2. What problems or scenarios does your policy seek to address?
  2. Stakeholder Engagement
    1. Who are your relevant stakeholders?
    2. Have these stakeholders been engaged in the development of this policy?
    3. Are there additional stakeholders whom you should involve in designing, executing, and/or governing the proposed policy?
  3. Assessment of Policy Impacts
    1. To what extent will this policy benefit specific underserved populations? How?
    2. Will certain groups benefit more than others? How?
  4. Assessment of Policy Burden
    1. To what extent would this policy burden different underserved communities? How?
    2. Will certain groups experience more burden than others? How?
  5. Outcomes
    1. How will you determine the “success” of your policy?
    2. Will different groups of underserved people experience different outcomes?
  6. Data
    1. What data sources have you identified to measure the impact of this policy?
    2. If none, can you use data to quantify the effects of the policy?
  7. Feedback

Have you shared information learned from this analysis with other interested or affected parties and stakeholders to identify ways to minimize inequities?

What Comes Next?

Do you need help to take the next steps related to your policy analysis? EPU is here to support. From our free online policy toolkits to free support from our Senior Policy Advisors, we are here to help you shape advocacy, outreach, and policy that creates a more just, equitable, and inclusive South.

EPU’s offers a set of free resources to community leaders, policymakers, and advocates in order to encourage actionable steps to accelerate positive change. They include but are not limited to: 

  • Research and analysis
  • Technical assistance
  • Policy development, and other resources 
  • Advising sessions with Senior Policy Advisors

You do not have to figure out how to make policy change on your own. Here are ways you can contact us.