UN SDG of the Month – Reduce inequality within and among countries – Oct 2020

By Brion Hurley
Originally written for the October 2020 IISE SDD newsletter

We want to highlight one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals in each newsletter. Let’s start with Goal 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries, as this topic has become front and center in the United States, specifically around race.

I graduated from the University of Iowa, and their football team also made news this summer over racial inequity. It took me by surprise, as I assumed that sports were one of the organizations that have made the most progress towards equality. But what I learned this year is that there is still more work to be done in all aspects of our society.

To start moving towards more equality, we need to be able to state the inequity problem clearly, and measure how we’re progressing.

These problems are not simple, and require our ISE skills to help teams bring stakeholders together and agree on what exactly is the gap that we need to close. That’s not a simple task, and it is often skipped over. There is pressure to jump to solutions to show that something is being done.

Here are some metrics in our society that could be used to quantify the gap by race, ethnicity, gender and other demographics:

  • Representation in upper management and leadership positions
  • Access to healthcare
  • Traffic stops and searches
  • Criminal punishment
  • High school graduation rates
  • Wealth
  • Home ownership

ISE’s can also help walk organizations through a systematic approach using data, observations, and interviews to arrive at likely long-term improvements, as well as track the progress to ensure that the improvements are successful.

Let’s go back to the Iowa football program. How do you measure the racial inequity? I was able to find data that showed 42% of black athletes are not completing the program, compared to 58% of white and non-black athletes.

That sounds like a clear gap to me, and it is a statistically valid difference.

We’ll know when the Iowa football culture has improved when these percentages are closer to each other (and hopefully both groups have higher success rates).

Learn more about UN SDG Goal 10 at https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/inequality/

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