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Why DEIAO (Still) Matters

The Need for Systemic Change

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Anti-Oppression (DEIAO) are terms we have all heard for a few years. Still, their importance and relevance have not subsided in the slightest since the events of 2020 and 2021, when severe instances of anti-Black racism and Indigenous genocide were in the headlines.

The tragic death of George Floyd and the recovery of mass graves at Canadian residential schools should not have been needed to bring DEIAO concepts to the forefront, and their relevancy has not faded as time passed since those events. Racism against Black and Indigenous peoples may not be making headline news right now, but it hasn’t gone away.

The deaths were symptoms of larger, ever-present systemic issues requiring continual systemic change.

Our Promise at CES-Ontario

DEIAO is a set of critical values that we take it very seriously at CES-Ontario.

Our Board knows what happens when biases go unchecked, whether in data collection or people’s actions, and we are dedicated to dismantling systemic racism and creating a more equitable world by starting with our roles as evaluators.

We’re working to bring it into our mindset, operational strategy, and leadership. This, of course, takes time.

DEIAO in Action

We’ve been having conversations about different facets of DEIAO and how it can be exercised in evaluation work.

Our 2023 conference’s theme is “Increasing Diversity and Promoting Inclusion”—and we want to talk about both the why that underpins DEIAO work, as well as provide tools that give evaluators the how.

DEIAO is needed at every level of evaluation work, from the details to the larger scopes, and finding solutions takes work.

For instance, in seemingly simple tasks such as demographic data collection, there can be tension in the balance: on one hand, we recognize the need for survey takers to self-define their identity markers such as ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender identity by describing themselves in their own words. On the other hand, providing ever-growing “comprehensive” lists of options for self-identification might be easier for number crunching.

Broader conversations about equity-driven evaluation include examples such as paying program participants for their time and compensating them for their lived experience and knowledge.

At the highest level, incorporating DEIAO can involve redesigning entire programs, for instance, centering evaluations around Indigenous values of community care.

Not Once. Not in a Vacuum

Evaluators are some of the most curious, equity-driven professionals working today, but DEIAO doesn’t happen once, nor does it happen in a vacuum.

The opportunity to learn from and with each other is one of CES Ontario’s ongoing goals, both at our conference and every day, and our DEIAO work will be a part of that journey.

We look forward to asking each other, “How are you increasing diversity and promoting inclusion?” and fostering ongoing change for a safer, more caring world.

Our 2023 Virtual Conference Building Better Evaluation: Increasing Diversity and Promoting Inclusion will happening online on October 26, 2023. Register before October 10 for early bird ticket prices!