August 2019: CHE ARC Newsletter

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August 2019

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  • CHE has screened and selected Kentucky’s expungement policy as the focus for the next Health Impact Assessment (HIA). Expungement of one's criminal record can have a strong effect on health by increasing access to employment, health care, and housing. The subject was selected due to its alignment with current LMPHW policy priorities, health equity impacts, the strong potential for collaboration with stakeholders, and the value an HIA could add to the decision-making process. If you are interested in contributing to or learning more about this HIA, please contact us at
  • Dr. Sarah Moyer attended the Quarterly Meeting of the Louisville Health Advisory Board on July 18, 2019 where she updated members about the Health Equity Report and provided a preview of Healthy Louisville 2025.
  • Are there topics you’re interested in and want us to write about? Email us at with your suggestions!

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Work Culture and Systems of Power

“Culture is powerful precisely because it is so present; And, at the same time, so very difficult to name or identify.” – Tema Okun


Throughout our 13-year history, Center for Health Equity (CHE) has experienced various growth and evolution, with the 2018 realignment being our biggest yet. On August 1, CHE staff convened for a retreat to align along a shared culture to guide how we work together and strengthen our practices, relationships, and strategy in ways that ensure our external work continues to build a healthier Louisville.

In society, culture reflects the shared meaning of life across our experiences – from the personal to the professional. The concept of culture, from shared stories and assumptions, connects people, defines truth and bridges worlds together to understand who we are and what is expected of us. Work culture characteristics include how we practice professionalism, collaboration, daily work, team dynamics, respect, and learning. These characteristics impact how many of our workplaces function internally, but also how we interact with external stakeholders and community (you!).

At CHE, we advocate for equitable policies and practices to improve health outcomes for community and that requires equitable workplaces that healthy, shared work. However, we know that systems of power have shaped and impacted every facet of our community – including how we show up in our workplaces to collaborate, disagree, and strategize together. CHE began exploring how systems of power shape workplace culture at our staff retreat.

Healthy work cultures not only provide employees with the opportunity to grow and nurture their ideas, but also how daily work is accomplished. Below are some of the characteristics and tips we discussed for creating an equitable work culture, outside of systems of power:

Unhealthy Culture:

  • Either/or thinking; This can simplify complex issues by categorizing issues and people into good/bad, right/wrong, or with us/against us. However, complex situations require us to think in a both/and framework that makes room for many experiences.
  • Fear of open conflict; This can impact people at all levels of an organization to try to ignore conflict, especially when it makes us uncomfortable. But conflict can be healthy – especially as we are trying to transform our communities to achieve health equity.
  • Perfectionism; This can result in little appreciation for the work that others are doing, emphasize “inadequacies,” and create a work culture where making a mistake is confused for being a mistake. But mistakes are inevitable – especially as we attempt to create an equitable community that hasn’t been previously experienced.

Tips for Creating an Equitable Work Culture, Outside of Systems of Power:

  • Instead of either/or thinking:
    • Slow down and encourage people to do a deeper analysis
    • Avoid making decisions under extreme pressure
    • Notice when people are simplifying complex issues
  • Instead of having a fear of open conflict:
    • Role play ways to handle conflict before it happens
    • Ensure the issues raised aren’t dismissed because there is a greater concern about the way those issues are raised.
  • Instead of perfectionism:
    • Develop a learning culture where it is expected that staff will make mistakes and embrace those mistakes as opportunities for learning
    • Develop a culture of appreciation

Ongoing formal and informal reviews of work culture also allow staff to contribute to fostering healthy characteristics to both build morale and provide accountability for staff to commit to the transformation. To achieve our vision of health equity, we must work both externally and internally to remove the ways systems of power have designed the intricacies of society. Healthy work cultures are necessary for achieving health equity and changing community!

To learn more about building a culture of equity, check out the articles linked below or contact us with specific questions at


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