The Constellation of Accountability

May 2, 2022

Within equity journeys, education is often seen as the starting point for both individuals and organizations. Education to create a sense of shared understanding. Education to address an issue or conflict that has arisen between colleagues. Or simply education to further one’s personal and professional growth. In combination with education though, accountability is imperative to ensure that the equity journey does not falter or fail. Through proper accountability, equity goals become a reality instead of an aspiration.

There are three levels in which you can view accountability, depending on the scenario and variables at play. The levels are: 

  • The Personal Level – the obligation or willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own actions and commitments.
  • Interpersonal Level – the action of holding others accountable when their actions or behaviors go against the shared culture of belonging and commitments.
  • Systematic Level – the willingness to hold systems (Your Organization, Foundation Boards, the general public) accountable for their actions or in-actions.

Accountability is often thought about on a micro-scale, hyper-focusing on the personal level;  What are the things that YOU should be looking at, What are the things that YOU should be avoiding, and who are the people that YOU should be fostering community with. This micro-scale only looks at people who are in your immediate ecosystem of influence and does not account for the big picture of accountability. 

To better model this, we have created the Constellation of Accountability. The Constellation of Accountability allows for individuals to identify themselves and other key actors to determine how they are kept accountable. Included within the constellation are the different values that affect a person. People make decisions based on their beliefs and values, which come from different sources. On the constellation, you are able to view and visualize the different variables that might influence the decisions being made. By seeing the full scale at play, it is easier to understand why people make the decisions that they do.

For accountability to succeed, it can not be something heralded by one person. It must be a community approach. As you work with your accountability clusters to shepherd new equity goals, we have some practical tips to help you along the way. 

  • Practice having mindful conversations with people in your immediate ecosystem when you notice something occurring outside of your shared commitments. Accountability is like a muscle. The more that you practice it, the stronger you will become. 
  • Utilize Empathy-Mapping. We have a step-by-step recorded guide on Empathy-Mapping, which can be accessed in the virtual library. 
  • Accept critique, feedback, and suggestions from those around you. By opening yourself up to dialogue from your peers, it will allow you to access a greater pool of ideas and solutions during periods of reflection.