If this world were equal, we all would have started at the same point. However, due to inequality, many people get a head start in life while some struggle to access the starting line. But what is the alternative to equality in this unequal world? And how can we introduce it in the workplace? Read the article to find out.
- Equity and Equality: Let us spot the difference
- Why should we care about Equity?
- Equity in the Workplace
- 9 Ways to Incorporate Equity in the Workplace
- Frequently Asked Questions
Equity and Equality: Let us spot the difference
Equality and equity overlap in more than one way. But the nuances these terms carry can vary significantly. Equality refers to giving equal opportunity and rights to all, irrespective of who they are and from where they come. Equity ensures people and their varying needs are supported at multiple levels. Equality ensures that people do not face discrimination due to their identity or background. Equity tries to level the ground for people who previously faced discrimination or did not have equal access.
For instance, an educational institution can practice equality by giving equal opportunity to all its students. But it can incorporate equity in its practices by providing adequate support (like training programs, scholarships, etc.) to first-generation learners.
Efforts for equality are concerned with the present and the future. But on the other hand, equity not only considers what has happened but discovers the best way to achieve a fair outcome for all.
Why should we care about Equity?
If we consider equity merely as a practice that gives certain people an advantage in some instances, we are bound to question its need. Some might even view it as a means of discrimination rather than something that helps achieve an equal outcome. Equity, however, is a means to achieve equality.
How do we achieve equality through equity? Ideally, giving everyone equal opportunities and rights could have sufficed to have an equal world. But let’s consider people’s race, ethnicity, gender, religion, etc., and all the experiences accompanied by their identity. We will see that the path toward equality is not as linear as it seems.
Equity steps in to level the ground for people who did not have equal access or races who have historically faced discrimination or specific social classes that were made victims of stratification.
According to research by Pew Research Center, many Americans agree that there is “discrimination against several groups in the United States, including 80% who say there is a lot of or some discrimination against Black people, 76% who say this about Hispanic people and 70% who see discrimination against Asian people.”
An article from Harvard Business Review sums up the need for equity interestingly:
Equity in the Workplace
With the world striving towards an equal work environment, companies are also shifting their goals to include diversity, equity, and inclusion policies. Companies with effective diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives benefit in the long run. Companies with a more inclusive culture notice a 59.7% increase in innovation.
About 76% of job seekers and employees shared that a diverse workforce is an important factor when evaluating companies and job offers, according to Glassdoor’s D&I survey.
As diversity and inclusion initiatives move forward in the corporate world, efforts for an equitable work environment are also surfacing. For instance, streaming giant Netflix has committed to invest $ 100 million over the next five years in organizations that help underrepresented communities train and find jobs in TV and film through its Netflix Fund for Creative Equity.
So clearly, DEI is the need of the hour, but why is equity the starting point?
Equity is the foundation of diversity and inclusion! Daniela Herrera, a renowned DEI expert, explains it best-
“Equity in the workplace means to intentionally and purposely and consciously ensure that everyone in the company has access to the support, resources, treatment, and the opportunities they need to succeed in the workplace.”
So when we talk about equity in the workplace, we talk about adequate access while considering everyone’s situation. And that creates a healthy environment for thriving diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
Interestingly, we can link the concept of equity with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: a theory that divides and analyzes human needs into five categories, i.e., physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization. Just as individuals might work to fulfill their needs according to the category they lack most; equity also aims to work on areas where people have been left out in terms of access, support, and opportunities.
So how to bring this important tool into the workplace? Read further to find out.
9 Ways to Incorporate Equity in the Workplace
Educate and Initiate
No initiative can be implemented without proper research. Moreover, leaders of such initiatives must educate themself on the matter first to study the nuances of concepts like equity. Besides, a formal study about equity will allow us to learn new things, accept change, and unlearn a lot of previously accepted notions.
Once concerned people are adequately educated on the matter and have familiarized themselves with the tools required to tackle equity, organizations can move forward to the next step.
Goodwill can only make changes to our minds. A good strategy is required to bridge the gap between thought and action. Companies should make sure that they consult experts and involve their members in drafting a strategy that promotes equity at their workplace.
Companies can start by shortlisting areas where they want to work first. Tools like Pietential can help you assess, analyze and monitor the current state of your employee wellbeing and pinpoint areas where they need support.
These insights can help companies prioritize their DEI initiatives. An organization might want to begin by addressing issues of gender equity, while some might want to deal with racial equity first. It is also essential that companies take into account what aligns with their values and goals the most before working on an area.
Start at the Top
When making a change that needs to be implemented at every level, a strong leader is required. People undertaking leadership roles can undergo training programs before heading equity initiatives in their organization. Leaders can even begin small and make tiny behavioral changes. Leadership coaching can be included in a company’s diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Executive leaders can be made accountable for achieving their respective DE&I goals. Organizations can support them by giving them access to adequate resources.
Another approach to leadership and equity is allowing (and enabling) people with diverse backgrounds to take up leadership positions. Representation is an essential tool of equity and can help widen access for other community members.
Despite best intentions and practices, inert biases may slip into an organization’s system. It is vital that companies keep these biases in check. Companies should look into their talent management practices. They can also evaluate whether their hiring and advertising policies are accessible to all. Team leaders can work individually and ensure that no one feels discriminated against, intentionally or unintentionally.
Recruitment and Hiring
Businesses can indeed make a huge difference when it comes to equity. But to make an impact, businesses must open their arms first. Human Rights Career explains that a strategy is needed for an equitable hiring process. Organizations should also remember that to recruit a diverse workforce, the diverse voices within the organization matter greatly. Who is going to be present? What kind of people are we looking for? Are we recruiting based on skills? What accommodations can we make? : These are some of the questions people involved in the hiring process can ask.
For a more equitable hiring process, hiring teams should actively work to analyze and fight their own biases. Intentionally including a diverse workforce helps lay the foundation of equity in an organization.
Employees have been continually demanding equal pay for all. And to some extent, changes are being made in this regard. Moreover, any gaps in an organization’s pay equality goals are easier to locate and identify.
Equitable pay, however, is slightly different from equal pay. While a tenet of pay equity does emphasize job function over job title, it is also concerned with analyzing people who hold the highest-paying positions. For instance, it is not an equitable workplace if all high-paying positions are held by white people while POC employees get the low-paying ones.
A considerable part of making your workplace equitable includes accommodating the needs of all your employees. Employers must also acknowledge that their employees will have different needs. Suppose an employee needs to care for a child or a sick family member. In that case, they might need a different set of accommodations as compared to an employee with a neurodivergent condition. Similarly, if an organization has preferred skills over the education of employees, they can provide additional support to navigate the organization and its system.
Equity at Face Value
Harvard Business Review discusses bringing equity to the marketplace and society. Besides bringing equity into the workforce, businesses must promote equity in what they sell, how it is produced, or how they tackle intersecting concerns of the outside world.
Therefore, equity and inclusion become critical points of what you sell and how your actions impact the world—even speaking up for social issues counts. Companies can urge their leaders to take part in creating social change. Businesses can make sure that equity is practiced both internally and externally.
Evaluate and Improvize
The practice of introducing equity at work is an inevitable task. However, it is not something that can be done away with once the DE&I tide dies down. Equity should be strategically implanted within an organization. This strategy should be regularly evaluated and revised. Organizations can even ask their employees for feedback on their equity policies.
One attempt will not magically introduce equity to your organization. It is a culmination of many efforts that will lead to an equitable workforce. Until then, organizations must keep working, evaluating, and promptly improving their efforts to achieve equity at work.
Though separated by a very thin line, the difference between equity and equality can define the struggles of a lifetime. When we have access to opportunities, we must extend our hands to those who might have missed them. The world is still unequal, and perhaps it will take time to blur the scars of systemic discrimination. Until then, we should take the road of equity to reach our equality goals.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is equality?
Equality is providing everyone equal rights, opportunities, treatment, and access.
- What is equity?
Equity refers to providing support at varying levels to achieve fair and equal outcomes.
- What is DE&I?
DE&I refers to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. These are policies that people from various backgrounds feel included in the workplace and are provided with adequate support to perform their best.