November 15, 2017

Focusing on equity to better support health care and Reproductive Justice

Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette provides, promotes and protects access to sexual and reproductive health care. The Portland-based family planning and reproductive rights organization serves communities across Oregon and Southwest Washington that have few options for health care due to cost, immigration status or need for confidentiality.

Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette, an affiliate of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, recognizes that health care accessibility and delivery have historically been politicized or manipulated to benefit specific populations over others. Planned Parenthood aims to reduce health disparities experienced within its service population. The 54-year-old organization has been exploring how to define, understand and increase equity within its ranks so that it better supports Reproductive Justice and that the health care it provides is more equitable.

Its work dovetails with Meyer’s goal to increase commitment to equity among organizations and improve understanding of how best to advance equity. A Building Community grant of $169,799 over three years helps support the organization as it moves deeper into goals outlined in its existing equity plan. Those include embedding equity principles into its policies and practices, building relationships and accountability mechanisms with community partners, and assessing and strengthening cultural competence within the organization.

The health organization has already committed to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in a number of specific ways. A cross-functional group of staff and board members began working on the organization’s equity plan in 2016 by conducting an organizational assessment using the Coalition of Communities of Color’s “Protocol for Culturally Responsive Organizations,” which revealed priority areas for growth. In addition to having staff across the organization engaged in different ways, Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette has invested in two staff positions dedicated to leading and supporting this equity work. (The organization employs about 200 people.) PPCW’s director of equity and inclusion, in particular, has positional authority as a member of its executive team and as a direct-report to the CEO. And Planned Parenthood’s board of directors has been supportive of and engaged in the organization’s equity work from the start.

As part of their grant activities over the next three years, the group will further its work in data gathering and institutionalizing practices, measuring its progress on cultural competence by administering an assessment to all staff members, using those results to create differentiated learning opportunities, and administering a follow-up assessment. And it has set a goal of allocating all its health care resources through its equity lens (i.e., in alignment with principles of diversity, equity and inclusion) and plans to create policies over time to support this.

We are thrilled to partner with them to support their efforts to delve deeper into equity.


— Erin