This year’s Black History Month theme is Black Family: Identity, Diversity, and Representation. Next month, it’s Women’s History Month, with a theme focused on voting rights and political leadership.

When we as researchers and consultants look at public policy decisions and the consequences of those decisions for Black families and women as part of our daily work, it reaffirms the need for us to consider how the past has shaped the present. Disparities in housing, food insecurity, educational opportunities, arrests and sentencing, and wages—to name a few areas—have had impacts on generational wealth-building and the economic vitality of communities, not to mention the realization of individual potential. This historical lens helps us to understand what we see in the data and hear from people participating in programs or informing strategic plans.

However, these months that celebrate the history of those who fought against discrimination and violence also draw attention to the importance of ongoing self-reflection and intentional approaches to inclusion as we plan and conduct our work. We talk about this regularly as a staff and challenge ourselves to always be looking with clear eyes at what we and others bring to each project. Here are a few of the ways PPA values equity:

  • Pursuing research questions that identify disparities
  • Working collaboratively with diverse client and project teams
  • Seeking out a range of stakeholder voices
  • Encouraging staff members’ authentic selves
  • Identifying new approaches that promote improved outcomes
  • Engaging in learning and self-reflection

And, like history, where the human story keeps building, we are not finished yet.