In partnership with Chair Jeff Cogen’s Office, Multnomah County’s Office of Diversity and Equity unveiled a tool in October 2012 that will assist the county, as well as other public agencies in examining how policies and practices in place support equity.

The tool, which is called the Equity and Empowerment Lens, is a set of materials that focus on racial justice and present a series of questions and actions to help organizations shift cultural norms.

Through the application of this lens, organizations -- including the county -- will be able to uncover patterns of inequity and symptoms of those inequities, and demonstrate the impact on marginalized communities.

Those employing the lens are asked to take the following steps when initiating their equity and racial justice work:    

Assess their current ability for equity work
Describe current direction and strategies
Identify inequities and injustices in the current issue
Reflect and understand their strengths and challenges
Enhance what is leading to equity and empowerment
Eliminate strategies and root causes leading to inequities and injustices
Celebrate successes and improvement

An earlier version of the lens was created and piloted by the Multnomah County Health Department in 2011. And as a result of its implementation, the health department decided to fund an aggressive breast-feeding promotion program for African-American mothers in our community.

In an effort to further reduce disparities often experienced by communities of color, immigrants and refugees living in this region, Multnomah County will continue to improve the way services are delivered by applying this lens organization-wide.

The Equity and Empowerment Lens is available for download here

and is available to any organization or agency interested in making equitable change.

Related links

Chair Cogen’s letter on the Equity and Empowerment Lens

The Equity and Empowerment Lens at a glance Equity and Empowerment Lens at a Glance (2.07 MB)
The Equity and Empowerment Lens