Over the past 60 years, significant progress has been made toward promoting social equity in both the public and the private sectors in the United States. Prominent examples include actions on civil rights, women’s rights, poverty reduction, and gender equality; and this progress has been hard won. But continued progress remains uneven and, in some cases, has regressed. The roller coaster can be partially explained by macro shifts in economic conditions and political priorities. Even in this context, social equity can be advanced by building a strong federal platform that would include increased awareness, rigorous measurement, formal evaluation and consistent application.
While equity in the distribution of public services and administration of programs should be the goal of any presidential administration, it is difficult to move programs and practices toward equity through legislative actions alone. Therefore, one of the social equity recommendations set forth for the first year of the presidential term beginning in 2021 emphasizes administrative frameworks, data collection, research and evaluation that should be put in place quickly. This would allow agencies to determine if existing services are effective and equitably distributed, if new initiatives are likely to have equitable impact, and if statutory changes are warranted.