Equity Impact (EI) Assessment:
A Tool to Evaluate and Develop Policy
(Equity Lens Tool)

Equity Impact Assessment and the Equity Lens

WSU uses a systematic application of an Equity Impact (EI) Assessment through application of an equity lens on existing and future policies to help identify potential disparate effects on different groups.

An equity lens is a series of questions that embed equity and disrupt oppression within an institutional structure and system. Intentional use of an equity lens helps to:

  • Infuse equity in the evaluation of policies and procedures;
  • Identify potential disparate effects on individuals, groups, and communities;
  • Realize more equitable decisions and outcomes; and
  • Build a community of equity.

EI Assessments are used at all stages of policy development, from origination by the unit responsible throughout the process until the final approval is reached. The EI Assessment is used to inform policies and decisions in the same way that environmental impact statements, fiscal impact reports and risk assessments are used in policy development.

Working Definition of Equity

The Equity Impact Assessment facilitates the process, product, and practice of equity.

  • As a process, enacting equity illuminates ways in which people are advantaged, underrepresented and excluded within institutions and systems.
  • As a product, equity results from a dissolution of oppressive institutional structures within any system leading to a balance of opportunity and outcomes for all.
  • Equity is practiced when individuals and institutions regularly call attention to systemic oppression and racial inequities, take institutional responsibility to dismantle these inequities, and commit to change agency to advance equity across institutional policies.

By using an equity lens, we aim to:

  • Provide shared language, authentic exchange, and formalized protocol for evaluating decisions, policies, practices, and processes for equity.
  • Make decisions that result in more equitable outcomes across policies, practices, and processes.

By adopting an equity lens, we:

  • Recognize and address how the institution may advance or impede efforts to become more equitable.
  • Become more action-oriented to eradicate disparities resulting from forms of systemic oppression, including racism.
  • Realize equity efforts by first identifying and addressing barriers that disproportionately impact historically underrepresented and excluded groups.
  • Explicitly engage in crucial conversation and intergroup dialogue about equity, justice, inclusion, and belonging.
  • Empower every community member, cabinet, council, unit and department across all WSU campuses to utilize the equity impact assessment tool to infuse equity and dismantle systemic inequities throughout the WSU system and institutional fabric.

Equity Impact Assessment Tool 

The questions below form core considerations needed in reviewing policies, procedures, and decisions with an equity lens.

Question 1 

For New Policies – Have WSU community members from communities that have experienced systemic racism and institutional discrimination been intentionally involved in the process of drafting this policy, practice, or decision? If not, who else should be involved in the development process?

For Revision of Existing Policies – Were WSU community members from communities that have experienced systemic racism and institutional discrimination intentionally involved in the process of reviewing this policy, practice, or decision? If not, who should be involved in the revision process? 

Question 2 – What are the intended outcomes of the policy, practice, or decision? 

Question 3 – What are the potential impacts of this policy, practice, or decision on those who have experienced systemic racism and institutionalized discrimination?     

  • How might this policy have a disproportionate impact, negatively or positively, on those who have experienced systemic racism and institutionalized discrimination?  
  • How does this policy, practice, or decision perpetuate or help to dismantle historical or other barriers to equity? 

Question 4 – If this policy, practice, or decision has the potential to ignore or worsen existing disparities or produce other unintended consequences, should this policy be enacted? If so, what mitigation should be planned?  

Question 5 – What accountability, infrastructure, and resources are required to implement the policy? 

Question 6 – What is the plan to evaluate and monitor the policy, practice, or decision to ensure equity in the short- and long-term?    

Revisions:  Feb. 2023