In The Public Way, Inc.
BJ Walker

Race Equity, Social Justice and Public Sector Leadership

– A Business Model –

Our Work

Helping public sector leaders open up space for transformational work.

Does it seem as though we are working hard on big problems in spaces that are too small to get anything done?

We Consult

Going deep inside the problem space
to extract likely levers of change; we listen closely

We Coach

Using what we hear to advise and
coach leaders and their teams to help them focus and stay inside their vision for change

We Communicate

Using what we learn to create
new strategies and narratives that support their change efforts

Moving Leaders and their Executive Teams to an Actionable POV on Prevention

– Rooted in Race Equity and Social Justice –

A POV – developed with my partner James T Dimas

DEI and Social Justice Agenda

A DEI and Social Justice agenda focused primarily on changing people’s minds and hearts does not, by itself, remove the implicit bias already embedded inside government’s policies, rules, and practices –and that is often what is driving the behaviors of public leaders, their workforce and their providers.
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The Historical Problem

The historical and structural under-resourcing and under-serving of people of color and their communities guarantees that they will most likely get seen through the lens of that deprivation, and not through their noble (but often ineffectual) efforts to navigate the threats and traumas of an unjust society. What we perceive in their lives as dysfunction is often survival, but our tools are not designed to see survival nor to lift people out of survival mode. 🧵 2/3

Our Public Systems

Our public systems therefore make implicit assumptions that they act on and that may not produce or lead to the outcomes that the people who most need the services and programs need. Inevitably, we then blame the recipient –not our rules, regulations, policies and practices. 🧵 3/3

Examples of How Implicit Bias Gets “Smuggled” into Institutional Decision Making and Behavior

– Rooted in Race Equity and Social Justice –

In Childcare

A quality standard that assumes that “Licensed is always better than unlicensed” results in care not being available equally to people who most need it – when and where they need it 🧵 1/2

In Child Welfare

Murky definitions of key decision-making terms and tools result in biased removal decisions.

• Safety more likely a gut level assessment that judges the family through the lens of the inequities and disparities that brought them first to the mandated reporter’s and then the agency’s attention

• Best interest of the child almost never includes a positive line of sight on what a Black or Brown parent/family has been doing just to survive (in an unjust society)

🧵 2/2

Our Conclusion

Public systems must change or continue doing harm…

Focusing on Crisis Intervention

We must move away from disproportionately “policing” families of color because these systems were built to intervene on crisis and failure when we know that crisis and failure are already deeply baked into how and where these families live. 🧵1/5

Making Shallow Public Investments

We must stop creating policies that drive public investment so heavily to the “deep end & foster care” that the “shallow end & prevention” remain under-resourced and under-served. 🧵2/5

Operating with a Flawed Chain of Decision-Making

We need to challenge the flawed and biased “chain of decision-making” that locks Black and Brown families into the deep end and thereby reinforces myths about who they are and why they are struggling and in crisis. 🧵3/5

Having a Limited Vision for Change

We must expand our national vision and our collective expectations for what the role of the public sector and its leadership should be in ensuring equity and social justice for all. 🧵4/5

Ignoring the Role of Bias and Historical Inequities

We need to realize that racial disparities and the disproportionality they fuel are most actionable and their remediation most impactful before families and their children are standing at the front door of our nation’s child welfare systems. 🧵5/5

So we focus on public sector leaders because:

There is a leadership space inside the public sector that often gets castigated for lack of doing the right thing or lambasted for trying to and not getting it done right…Leaders and their teams need the space to try and learn and grow….or nothing will ever really change.

We coach that space…