WESI is deeply committed to equity and inclusion. Below, we detail some of the ways in which we are working toward achieving equity in our work.
WESI believes in:
- Centering the self-identified needs and voices of women experiencing financial insecurity
- Fostering an inclusive environment where systemic barriers to participation are eliminated for women experiencing financial insecurity
- Developing a pipeline that includes access to resources for leadership development of women experiencing financial insecurity to co-create solutions
- Providing opportunities for increased awareness and education of system actors around equity, diversity, and inclusion
- Challenging and dismantling systemic oppression within all institutions that WESI is connected to that creates and encourages new organizational culture within those institutions
In 2019, WOMEN’S WAY conducted an innovative equity audit of WESI that sought to uncover, recognize, and change inequities that are internal to the WESI collective. We partnered with Strategy Arts to build an equity audit tool for collective impact that would discover effective tactics and approaches to improve our equity practices. Given WESI’s focus on women with economic insecurity, Strategy arts hired two women with lived experience who were already involved with WESI as Equity Audit Trainees to help develop the tool, conduct the audits, and facilitate a learning and improvement session.
Please read the final report from our WESI Equity Audit here.
Racial Equity Workshop
Through our equity audit, participants identified an important opportunity for WESI members to do more work on issues around racial equity, white supremacy, and racial justice. To support our commitment to racial justice and to sharpen our ability to actively move this commitment into action, WOMEN’S WAY hosted a 2-day training for staff and partners in October of 2019. The training was led by Deidre Ashton and Sarah Halley, a cross-racial team of consultants who specialize in racial justice workshops. 26 partners attended the workshop.
In this workshop, participants:
- Developed a shared analysis and language about white supremacy, racism, white privilege, racial justice, etc.
- Increased their understanding of how racism functions and what their role in it is
- Explored their internalized and learned racism and barriers to working on it
- Explored racial identity development, assessed where they are in their racial identity journey and took needed next steps to grow in this area
- Built confidence in their ability to see and address racism and racial microaggressions through action
- Built skills in being accountable allies and working in coalitions
- Developed strategies for interrupting racist situations
- Built an action plan of concrete next steps
Public Events & Articles on Equitable Community Engagement
WOMEN’S WAY has sought and continues to seek out opportunities to share what we have learned about equitable community engagement through WESI’s work. In May of 2019, WOMEN’S WAY and Strategy Arts led a session titled “Operationalizing Equity in Collective Impact through Community Engagement” at the Collective Impact Forum’s 2019 Convening in Chicago, IL.
Additionally, Diane Cornman-Levy recently co-wrote an article along with Cynthia Estremera and Elizabeth Guman from Strategy Arts and Tashell Stevenson (a WESI partner who is also a woman with lived experience) titled, “Advancing the Economic Security of Women through Equitable Community Engagement.” Soon the article will be published in the Social Innovations Journal, a peer-reviewed journal.
Read the article here.
Community Conversations (CC) is a peer support and dialogue group made up of women in the Philadelphia region who have experienced or are experiencing economic insecurity. The group meets every 2-3 months to talk about their paths to economic independence, share stories and resources, and seek support and encouragement from others. All conversations are confidential.
The goals of WESI’s Community Conversations are:
- Create a long-term space and community of peers for women who have experienced or are experiencing economic insecurity
- Be a place where women feel empowered and encouraged, and where they can work on changing the sometimes negative internal narratives they have about themselves
- Provide networking and leadership development opportunities to participants
- Be a starting point for women to get involved with WESI’s work groups and committees, which are more solutions-oriented
For more information about the Women’s Economic Security Initiative or to get involved, please contact:
(215) 985 – 3322 ext. 227