The important difference between workplace equity and equality

    July 15, 2020

    Equity and equality. The difference between these words is a mere two letters — but there’s a significant difference between their meanings. And when it comes to the workplace, that difference is crucial for managers to understand.

    Workplace equality

    As HR Technologist points out, workplace equality means treating everyone in the workforce the same. All employees fall under one blanket of privileges, rules, and employees experience design. Workplace equality does not take demographic related needs into account — and that can result in an unfair work environment.

    Workplace equity

    On the other hand, equity strives to identify the specific requirements of employees —  needs that are related to ethnicity, age, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, and so on. It subsequently takes the varying needs of each group into account by working to make up the difference between the minority and majority groups. In short, equity is key to truly empowering minorities.

    From diversity to equity

    Forbes explains that there are four steps on the road to equity:

    1. Diversity: It’s important to attract diverse talent in order to put together a creative and productive workforce. In fact, research from Boston Research Group shows that businesses with diverse management teams reported 19 percent higher innovation revenue compared to companies with less diverse management teams. Diversity here involves attracting employees from a range of ethnic backgrounds, age groups, genders, and more.
    2. Inclusion: Inclusion occurs when company leadership encourages all employees to share their contributions and everyone feels empowered to do so thanks to positive reinforcement.
    3. Equality: Equality in the workplace is attained when all individuals in the workforce feel empowered to share their contributions because they know their leadership values them equally.
    4. Equity: Equity is a state that’s established when every single individual in the workplace has the specific support they need to succeed and grow.

    The value of achieving workplace equity

    While it might take effort and time to achieve workplace equity, it’s definitely worth the investment. It establishes a diverse thought process in innovation and decision making and it facilitates needs-based development for the workforce. Moreover, because it enhances engagement among all employees, it promotes work satisfaction and by extension retention. In the long run, it contributes significantly to the bottom line.



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