Road Map to Equity
NARAL Pro-Choice America believes deeply in making sure anti-racism, diversity, equity, and inclusion are at the heart of our work and throughout our organization. NARAL’s goal is to secure reproductive freedom for every body.
White supremacy and racism have for too long stood in the way of achieving reproductive freedom and ensuring access to abortion care for every body. Organizationally, we contributed to and benefitted from this injustice. We better understand now that we cannot advance reproductive freedom without actively working to dismantle white supremacy.
In that spirit, NARAL is striving to be an inclusive organization. Crucial to that journey is acknowledging that we are a legacy organization started mostly by white women and still largely led by white women. And the lack of diversity in our leadership has had very real consequences. We have done and said things that were wrong, and we’ve hurt people we care about. We apologize for the harm we’ve caused, and we’re holding ourselves accountable to repair that harm in order to achieve reproductive freedom with equitable access to abortion care for every body.
This is the beginning of a journey that is without end but offers the opportunity to learn more and do better at virtually every juncture. We are working to create long-term internal and external change to build the anti-racist, equitable organization we are committed to. We are holding ourselves accountable to anti-racist action and want external partners to hold us accountable too.
We aim to be intentional about the language we use to explain our goals and assess our work. These definitions in the Racial Equity Tools Glossary are foundational:
- Inclusion is “authentically bringing traditionally excluded individuals and/or groups into processes, activities, and decision/policymaking in a way that shares power.”
- Diversity is about who is present in a given group or room.
- Equity refers to “the condition that would be achieved if one’s racial identity no longer predicted, in a statistical sense, how one fares.”
As we redouble our efforts toward anti-racism and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), we’re doing so with intentionality about the resources, access, and urgency of action that are afforded to us because of our status as a legacy, white organization.
We’re undergoing an overhaul of strategic planning at the board and staff levels that centers on advancing DEI as a critical component of goals and objectives, while we work with a full-time DEI consultant to advance internal and external commitments around DEI. This is the first time in NARAL’s history that we’ve undergone such a robust process that doesn’t view DEI as an add-on, but instead works to center DEI in both our process and organizational outcomes. As we work toward developing this muscle, we are seeing changes in how we approach our daily decision-making. As a result of this planning, we’re thinking carefully about how we can use our intentionality, resources, access, and deliberative actions to advance our anti-racism and diversity efforts.
We are deeply committed to addressing and dismantling inequities, white supremacy, and racism through ensuring accountability, making amends, and taking new actions. Our mission—to achieve reproductive freedom for every body—will not be realized if inequities in access are not addressed. For too long, we placed the burden of creating an anti-racist environment on our staffers of color, and now we are making progress toward that responsibility being owned by our entire organization collectively. Historically, we valued the perspectives of cisgender women at the exclusion of transgender and nonbinary lived experiences, and now, in support of our mission, we value all perspectives.
The issues we fight for are deeply interconnected with other fights for justice and civil rights, so we are intentionally investing in organizations, campaigns, and other causes that strive to dismantle racist structures and systems. Structural racism has created massive wealth inequality, putting more wealth and capital in the hands of white people, and NARAL has been a beneficiary of structural racism. While we alone can’t fix this inequitable system, we can do our part to disrupt it by sharing our access and platform with other organizations. We recognize that we have power and privilege, and we believe that if power and privilege were more widely held, it would strengthen our mission and movement. We are actively working toward that end. The investments we’re making include financial resources, staff attention and expertise, and physical spaces to support organizing efforts and other activities.
Because of our history and platform, NARAL is given greater access to donors, elected officials (state and federal), and other opportunities that are more challenging for newer groups and groups led by underrepresented communities to access. When we meet with elected officials, we invite groups that have traditionally been overlooked to share that space with us. We bridge relationships between our donors and groups that have historically not had access to the same centers of financial privilege. We actively seek out opportunities to create new relationships between those in power and groups representing intentionally excluded communities.
In the past, NARAL would be quick to take on new initiatives, launch new campaigns, and get involved in elections before having critical conversations with our partners nationally and in states with defensive or offensive legislative opportunities, or looking at who is already on the ground doing the work. We held ourselves more accountable to media, donors, and legislators than we did to underserved communities, and by doing so, we upheld white supremacy. Our desire to engage in urgent action—urgency that’s created internally—has historically resulted in us sacrificing collaboration and authentic input from Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) and others who have been marginalized.
For too long, we have valued credit above collaboration and leading instead of listening. Now we are more intentional about engaging with partners to decide where and how NARAL is leading and where and how we’re following and supporting the leadership of other organizations.
Here’s what else we’re committed to:
- For the last several years, NARAL has neither participated in nor held panels without BIPOC representation. But we know that representation isn’t enough, and that’s why BIPOC speakers are paid honorariums at all NARAL-sponsored events. We are committed to giving voice and visibility to BIPOC speakers and to making sure our platform is as inclusive as possible.
- We will no longer center the experiences of cis-women, middle- and upper-class white individuals to the exclusion and harm of BIPOC, LGBTQ people, and especially transgender and non-binary people.
- We will work to dismantle white supremacy across the organization through workshops, training, staff and board committees, expanded policy portfolio, and partnerships focused on racial justice.
- Over the last seven years in particular, NARAL has set forth its intersectional commitments on issues that our allies lead on and where we support their work, including racial justice, immigration, democracy and voting rights, and LGBTQ equality. We will continue to support our progressive allies in the fight for justice and civil rights.
- We will hire a chief strategy, equity, and inclusion officer as part of our goal to address systemic needs.
Some actions we’ve taken recently to continue our intersectional work include:
- Caring Spaces for Our Staff: The wellbeing of NARAL staff is essential to meeting our mission of reproductive freedom for every body. As such, we are committed to being intentional about staff care, by providing access to wellness benefits, including mental health coverage in our health insurance plans, paid personal, vacation and sick time, and hosting reflection spaces to come together in times of challenge, crisis and joy.
- Anti-Racism Training: We’ve made available a six-part anti-racism series for all NARAL members. Separately, NARAL board and staff members have undergone rigorous anti-racism training, and ongoing, regular training for our staff is required.
- Staff Engagement: Our staff has been unionized since 1985, ensuring that our team members have the power and voice to improve our workplace. Additionally, we worked with our staff to create a committee that serves as a voice for all staff members to identify areas of concern around DEI and internal culture, and works with the executive team to set priorities. We will continue to work closely with staff members to hear and respond to their concerns.
- Hiring: We’re using new hiring practices to diversify our candidate pools and hold ourselves accountable for conducting the most equitable and thorough searches for new hires, including efforts to mitigate biases. We will continue to operate our paid internship program, which has been the single most successful program in NARAL’s history to diversify our organization.
- Transparency: We’ve created new internal structures to make sure we’re hearing from staff members at all levels of the organization and can respond to their concerns.
- Inclusivity: We seek to be inclusive, to hear and value the voices and lived experiences of our diverse community, including, but not limited to, providing translation services to engage our non-English-speaking members and stakeholders, creating language-accessible events, and using gender-inclusive language in our advocacy.
- Following Our Partners: NARAL works with partners and takes their lead to assure reproductive and racial justice are central in political and policy conversations at both the state and federal levels, with an emphasis on repealing bans on abortion coverage such as the Hyde Amendment as a core reproductive justice priority.