FY22 Update: Progress Towards Our Ongoing and Continuous Work to Become an Anti-Racist Organization
In the summer of 2020, we formally committed to taking concrete steps toward challenging white supremacy and becoming an anti-racist organization. While we recognize that this will be ongoing work, we pledged to report back on our efforts. A full report was provided to AccessMatters’ staff and board in October 2021. Our FY21 summary is linked here.
For FY22, we are taking a step back from our prior reporting format. In 2020, when we launched our public statement outlining our ongoing commitment to anti-racism work and began reporting out on our efforts, we were focused on white leadership’s responsibility to bear the laboring oar in any reporting efforts. Guided by the generous feedback of AccessMatters’ Black staff, we have committed to evolve that model to be more participatory, particularly in assessing the impact of our anti-racism efforts on our BIPOC staff and constituents, as well as in the development of goals for the coming year. We aim to ensure that the revised process centers the voices and direction of staff of color, and particularly Black staff.
Thus, in this abbreviated document, we are only focusing on the policy, programmatic, and board governance work we have advanced. We are deferring a report on other aspects of our work to allow time and space for an engaging and participatory process. We look forward to reporting back on this important internal work next year.
Below are some examples of our work towards meeting our FY22 policy, programmatic and board governance related anti-racism goals.
- Focus an anti-racist lens on our programming
- We hosted 2 network trainings on health equity with our family planning and breast/chest and cervical cancer partners, providing examples of how to monitor data to identify racial disparities resulting from system racism and implicit bias in health care delivery, and how to work on a performance improvement plan to address those disparities. Our Communications and Advocacy team also provided a mini-training to all staff regarding using more inclusive and affirming language with a focus on gender identity, physical ability and accessible language.
- Examine each of our programs anew with intentionality about our impact on Black and other oppressed and marginalized communities
- Status: We have continued our discussions at Senior Management Team (SMT) meetings to assess, on a program by program basis, how our work perpetuates white supremacy, and what we can do to approach our work in an anti-racist and trauma informed manner. We used these conversations to develop a health equity framework for our competitive Title X family planning, and to inform our race equity reporting for other projects. To date, we have looked at our research and evaluation function, explored resource development from this angle, and the internal and external impact of our training work. In order to stay connected to the communities we serve who often live at the intersections of multiple forms of oppression, we are intentionally building in accountability structures including community advisory boards and community-based participatory research methods in our grant applications going forward. Finally, we have included an intentional and material health equity component in all recent project proposals, taking into consideration the demographic composition of the Philadelphia area as well as the unique social locations of those whom we serve (both patients and providers).
- Increasing our efforts to support legislation and grantmaking to address and eradicate the impact of racism on pregnancy-related health outcomes for Black people
- Status: We continue to adjust and expand our advocacy priorities using an anti-racist and trauma-informed lens that includes, but extends beyond, pregnancy-related mortality and other disparities due to racism. We developed and disseminated an advocacy toolkit with our PPP network on pregnancy and COVID vaccine safety, acknowledging the historic racism in health care and vaccine development and dissemination that manifested in early vaccine hesitancy among some Black and other communities of color, as well as a toolkit and action alerts regarding incarceration for pregnant people, of particular importance given our nation’s history of over-policing, criminalizing, and incarcerating Black people. Our Communications and Advocacy team also developed and disseminated an advocacy toolkit on supporting increased access to doulas, who have been shown to have protective effects on pregnancy and birth outcomes for Black birthing people, and who have been historically less accessible due to cost and the impact of income disparities rooted in racism coupled with the lack of public and private insurance coverage for such services. We continued our work with Philadelphia’s Birth Justice program, Organizing Voices for Action (OVA), to gauge the impact of our trainings on implicit racial bias in reproductive health care by launching a qualitative follow-up study. And our CEO continues to serve in leadership roles in OVA and other efforts to examine and address disparate impact on the health of Black mothers, birthing people, and their families, such as our area FIMR HIV steering group. The Communications and Advocacy team developed a policy brief for State Representative Mary Jo Daley’s office on the impact of abortion restrictions on pregnancy outcomes and postpartum health, which disproportionately impact Black people and their families. This team also amplified local and statewide Get Out The Vote efforts, recognizing that election outcomes impact access to sexual and reproductive health care, particularly for BIPOC and other historically oppressed people. Additionally, our Communications and Advocacy team led collaborative, organization-wide interdisciplinary efforts to contribute public comments on multiple public health-related bills, policies, and strategic plans, with the aim of offering inclusive and affirming language, destigmatizing sexual and reproductive health care, centering health equity, and amplifying the voices and concerns of BIPOC communities and clients.
- Ensure organizational leadership is equipped to effectively support anti-racist work
- Status: During FY22, we focused considerable effort on the rethinking and remaking of our board of directors. Recognizing that a board consisting of more leaders of color, more expansive gender identities, and greater economic class diversity was necessary to achieve our anti-racist, gender inclusive, and trauma-informed goals, we engaged current board members, staff members, and the general public in broader recruitment efforts that built upon a frame of training and work our existing board engaged in regarding anti-racism, trauma-informed, and gender-inclusive commitments. With the assistance of RS Wellness, we also reexamined prior assumptions around board responsibilities and duties, especially as they relate to resource development and personal giving. We reconsidered our board resource development strategy through the same lens, with a recognition of the wealth gap that results from generations of system racism, especially anti-Black racism, in our country, and also with a focus on not conducting fundraising in a way that is exploitative of clients and communities served or disrespectful of community partner relationships. A new board and committee member application process was developed to inquire directly about social locations and lived experiences (shared at the discretion of the applicant), personal journey toward being anti-racist, and personal commitment to such work to intentionally strive to disrupt white, cisgender, patriarchal power structures. Candidates also spoke with our CEO about our anti-racism, trauma-informed, and gender-inclusive framing of our work to provide opportunities for conversation and ensure alignment. Over the course of the year, we recruited 11 new board members. Learn more about our new board members on our website. We also recruited a new member of our Senior Leadership Team: Raeann Billey, Vice President for Human Resources, who joined AccessMatters in April 2022. As part of her hiring process, we ensured that her professional experience and leadership style were aligned with our goals to be an anti-racist and trauma-informed organization
- Expand trainings at our board and senior management level to ensure governance, coaching, and supportive supervision occur through anti-racist and trauma-informed frameworks
- Status:Our entire management team participated in a multi-week series of trauma-informed leadership trainings with RS Wellness, a Black female-led local trauma-informed counseling and consulting practice, over the past year, and we look forward to building upon this foundation with guidance from our new VP of HR who was recruited with a focus on her commitment to and experience with diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging frameworks
In spring 2022, we launched an online orientation program for board and staff, which included access to self-guided trainings. This orientation learning path includes the following:
- Overview: The trauma-informed organization (1 module)
- Racism, Discrimination, understanding micro-aggressions and CPR (3 modules)
- Terms and definitions
- What’s a micro-aggression
- Reparative response model
- Inclusive and Affirming Language in Care Provision: Principles and Practice (1 module)
This training series has been rolled out to our new board members, and will be rolled out to existing staff and incorporated into upcoming onboardings of new staff in the coming year.
Additionally, we have continued providing individual and group-level executive coaching through an anti-racist and trauma-informed lens to our senior management team, through R&S Wellness. During Spring 2022, RS Wellness also resumed group work with leadership at the Director level to provide ongoing support.
We appreciate the upcoming opportunity to rethink our goal setting and evaluation to better identify and more meaningfully address issues and policies that impact our BIPOC staff, clients, partners, and community members. We look forward to sharing more about our efforts next year. In the meantime, if you have questions, suggestions, or recommendations for this work, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.