Look! I’ve never watched any Star Wars movies and never will. SciFi isn’t a genre of film I like. Sue me!!!
So when I hear continuously hear practitioners float around JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion), or some jumbled up letters to mean the same thing, I take issue with it. I already have an issue with the bastardization and cheapening of the industry through the forever use of acronyms.
There are four criteria for measuring equity: procedural fairness, access, quality, and outcomes. Justice is also the larger organizational value within which equity resides. They are equivalent in nature where equity is focused on the concern of the provision of services and justice is more values-oriented. So then why do we need to separate the two areas in the work we are trying to achieve?
For those on LinkedIn, I’m going to leave the debate between Lily Zheng (they/them) (with a clarification here, Dr. Sam Rae (she/her) (with another clarification) and Aaisha Joseph for your own reading. But here is my commentary on this debate.
I will concur with Lily in that justice informs the work we do with the eventual outcome of equity through policies, process and access to services. Just like I never understand why were are still chasing diversity like its a fad, I believe adding justice to the title means we are not going to take away the power of organizations to operate. Justice is the role of the public sector, an area I have been in for much of my career. If you want justice, run for public office and be part of that change. As Lily said in their post, there is no price tag for justice.
We are all activists in some way, shape or form. But to achieve equity and proper organizational change, there must be some form of level-headedness and maturity. Not shouting to the rooftops, or getting likes on Linked In. By no stretch of the imagination am I a gatekeeper to White privilege. My experience working in the public sector, it has been about making effective policy change through equitable facilitation and consultation. As Susan Gooden states in her book, Race and Social Equity: The Nervous Area of Government, “the implementation of justice is context-based which is dependent upon understanding a complex array of historical, political and social factors” and equity means that public administrators are attentive to differences in fairness and justice based on social characteristics (p.25).
To create equitable organizations, it is about engaging leadership , defining equitable outcomes and redesigning the system with employees and public at the forefront of that change – regardless of the sector. Have a read of Minal Bopaiah’s book Equity: How to Design Organizations where Everyone Thrives where she goes through her steps for organizational change.
I am never going to call myself a JEDI practitioner, as much as I won’t call myself a DEI/EDI practitioner. Justice and fairness definitely inform my work. My mantra though is to advance equity in organizations through strategic policy change using a systems thinking approach. My call to action is for practitioners to do away with this acronym in order to make effective change with the work we do.