Our Equity Committee and Shared Definitions

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We established our Equity Committee in 2016 to formalize the Center’s commitment to integrating and elevating principles of equity, belonging, justice, and diversity across all our operations and programs. The goals of the Equity Committee are to:

  • work towards a shared organizational understanding of equity
  • identify opportunities for improving our capacity and commitment to address equity
  • provide a space for reflection, exploration, and personal and professional growth
  • be thought leaders in creating and implementing a plan to integrate equity into our internal (recruitment, hiring, retention, culture, funding, procurement, etc.) and external (partnership and program development, etc.) processes


Equity Definitions

One of the first tasks the Equity Committee undertook was to agree on a set of definitions for key terms, so that we could have a shared understanding of these terms and to facilitate transparency in how we view these concepts. The Equity Committee also decided that because racism is a driver of health inequities across all identities, a focus on race should be explicit, but not exclusive. This approach is reflected in the definitions listed below.


Equity is achieved when we cannot predict outcomes by race/ethnicity or other demographic identity factors. For example, equity will exist in high school graduation rates when we cannot predict that any given group has a better chance for this achievement than any other.

Health equity is achieving a high standard of health for everyone in a community while at the same time concentrating on populations within that community that are at a disproportionate risk for poor health because of social factors.

Equality is achieved when individuals or groups of individuals are treated equally and no less favorably, including areas of race, gender, disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation and age.

Racial justice is a proactive reinforcement of policies, practices, attitudes and actions that produce equitable power, access, opportunities, treatment, impacts and outcomes for all.

Racism is often viewed as being primarily the result of individual action: personal prejudices or stereotyping, and intentional acts of discrimination by individuals. However, racism is also seen as a set of societal, cultural, and institutional beliefs and practices that benefit one race by subordinating and oppressing another. The definition of racial justice addresses both of these perspectives, considering individual acts of prejudice as only one dimension of racism.

Social determinants of health are “the circumstances in which people are born, grow up, live, work and age, and the systems put in place to deal with illness. These circumstances are in turn shaped by a wider set of forces: economics, social policies, and politics.”

Socially disadvantaged and marginalized groups are groups of people who systematically experience unfavorable social, economic, or political conditions based on their relative position in social hierarchies. Socially disadvantaged and marginalized groups often also experience a restricted ability to participate fully in society and enjoy the benefits of progress.