How Can We Build Organizational Capacity?
Build understanding and capacity to advance equity across the department and workforce (Read actions you can take below)
Health department staff across the organization must develop their knowledge and capacity to advance health equity practice. Leadership should encourage a culture of continuous learning and experimentation.
Health departments must therefore implement organizational development strategies that build theoretical understanding of equity, oppression, and power. They must also impart practical skills to apply this understanding across all policies, programs, practices, and interventions. These strategies can include agency-wide trainings, intra-departmental workgroups, peer-learning and coaching sessions, and other opportunities to reflect and discuss equity-related content.
Embarking on these strategies requires strong facilitation skills to ensure discussions are inclusive, respectful of different staff perspectives, and allow staff to share their lived experiences of inequities.
Case studies that build organizational capacity
Colorado Organizes Health Equity and Environmental Justice 101 Training
Harris County Institutionalizes Health Equity through Organizational Transformation
Actions to Advance Equity Using This Practice
Your leadership, staff, and department take the following actions to build organizational capacity:
- Have an ongoing process of education, structured dialogue, and organizational development that engages all department staff to:
1) Explain the evidence around health inequities and its sources
2) Explore the root causes of health inequities — oppression and power — and how to address them
3) Discuss the values and needs of the community
4) Build core competencies and capacities of staff to successfully achieve health equity
- Consider using agency-wide trainings, intra-departmental workgroups, peer learning sessions, coaching, and other approaches that create space to reflect and discuss equity-related content
- Build capacity around topics that normalize and operationalize health equity, such as:
Attending undoing racism or anti-racism training
Implementing policies, practices, and tools that explicitly address racial equity
Advancing an approach to include health equity in all policies
- Develop organizational infrastructure to support change — for example, establishing “change teams” in every department to support and lead equity work and assigning health equity staff to embed equity throughout the entire organization to transform organizational practice
- Build capacity at all levels of the organization to develop strong relationships with communities experiencing inequities and to identify and implement community solutions for ending health inequities
- Commit to developing a professional workforce that reflects the demographics of the populations served and the communities facing health inequities
- Establish a hiring process that vets candidates for their sensitivities to and understanding of root causes of health inequities, including willingness to learn, cultural humility, and listening skills