ONE Building the Infrastructure Supporting Sustainable Change and Renewal

Promoting Organizational and Systemic Change


This book is about the implications of structural, institutional racism and personal bias in the quality of care provided to service consumers in the health and human services. Addressing structural racism is one of the toughest jobs that any leader can face. Although the reasons for this difficulty are myriad and complex, one major barrier is a lack of understanding about the meaning of structural and institutional racism. For many white staff, racism is viewed as “individual acts of meanness” (McIntosh, 2005). This may account for why any discussion of racism is often met with defensiveness and taken as an affront to personal integrity.

This chapter explains the need for organizations to create a culture that confronts racism, especially in its own policies and operation, and uses as a case study how a large sectarian agency based in New York City set out in 1991 to address racism. As a disclaimer, each organization has its own challenges when it comes to understanding and addressing race. Teasing out the common ground between the experience of the study agency and that of other agencies requires a close organizational analysis of the agency's mission, operating programs and policies, and organizational culture as well as a willingness to invest the necessary resources to support the planning and implementation process.

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