Virginia launches dashboards — the first of their kind — to address inequities with data

Virginia News

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) – New dashboards launched by the commonwealth are hoping to highlight inequity and provide decision-makers with information to help those who need it.

The Governor’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the Equity Leadership Taskforce launched two dashboards: Equity at Glance and Equity in Action.

Dr. Janice Underwood, who is the chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer, says the dashboards are the first in the nation.

“I know for sure this data is so incredibly valuable and it’s an exciting day in Virginia,” she said.

The data is a culmination from 20 agencies in response to the General Assembly passing legislation proclaiming racism as a public health crisis, as well as a statewide assessment done by Underwood.

Underwood says the data displayed is able to show something that isn’t always easy to display.

“COVID has placed a spotlight on existing health inequity in the way structural racism has been embedded in our systems. Now that equity is highlighted and prioritized and everyone seems to be an equity expert, but real equity experts know it must be data-driven,” she said.

Equity At Glance highlights social detriments that contribute to health equities such as poverty, unemployment broadband access and more.

It is broken down via state, as well as by all 133 localities in the commonwealth.

Equity in Action shows Virginia’s COVID 19 response through programs such as food distribution and personal protective equipment partnerships.

Underwood hopes the data will help decision-makers and localities make decisions that will help those who need it.

“Providing data which shows these inequities at state and local levels will be able to get state and local leaders to target resources and stop arguing about what the problems are. A lot of times, we have a hard time stating the problem,” she said.

Underwood says it also helps highlight racism and the role it plays in inequities.

“We know structural racism is so nebulous, you can’t put your finger on it sometimes. But, by using data we can [start] to figure out what the problems are and then we target resources. Most people equate racism to burning a cross or the KKK or the use of the N-word or Jim Crow laws,” she said. “But what we do know is that racism today is more nefarious and muted and it’s no longer Jim Crow, it’s James Crow Esq.”

Underwood says the dashboard will be added to in the future and will include more information regarding criminal justice, law enforcement, and workforce diversity.

To check out the dashboards, click here and here.

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