What Is Equity in the Workplace?

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It's tempting to use the words equity and equality interchangeably. They aren't exactly synonyms, but they do refer to different ideas. Businesses must promote equity and equality in their hiring practices and corporate cultures. Continue reading to learn more about the differences between equity and equality in the workplace.

To achieve workplace equity, you must strive to achieve equal outcomes for all of your employees. The word itself derives from the Latin "aequitas," meaning justice.

To achieve workplace equity, consider each person's unique circumstances while ensuring they receive the same treatment as everyone else. In hiring, for example, strive for parity between people of different races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and gender identities. You could also strive to make low-income employees' salaries equal to those of executives.

Workplace equity is distinct from other types of business or financial equity. When people talk about business equity, they are most likely referring to the retained earnings that people have invested in the company. This is also known as stockholders' equity or owners' equity. Real estate equity is not the same as workplace equity. When a homeowner takes out a home equity loan, they are borrowing money against the value of their home rather than seeking social justice.

In the workplace, equality typically refers to ensuring that everyone has equal access to opportunities. This definition of equality can be expanded to include equity, but equity does not exist in and of itself.

As an example, consider hiring. Equality means that everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, or social status, has the right to apply for a job. These characteristics are protected by law. By hiring an equal number of people from different groups, an employer explicitly attempts to achieve racial justice, gender equality, and so on.

To better understand the distinction, imagine you have a fixed amount of money that you want to divide between two people. Equality means dividing the money evenly and giving each person half regardless of other factors. Equity is the consideration of each person's economic circumstances and background to ensure that those who are more marginalized receive more money.


3 Equity Examples

Most commonly, equity refers to the attempt to achieve a just and equal distribution of resources to all people. Consider the following equity examples to help you better understand the concept:

1. Affirmative action: In order to promote racial equity, certain universities and employers have made a concerted effort to recruit certain types of people. In doing so, they will occasionally make exceptions in order to bring people on board who would not otherwise have a chance.

2. Redistribution of wealth: Governments may enact redistributive wealth programs to ensure that all groups of people receive an equal share of the economic pie. To achieve equality, for example, every citizen would have access to a common stock market. Every citizen would have the same number of stocks in order to achieve equity.

3. Universal health care: Different countries work in different ways to achieve public health equity. In the United States, for example, everyone has equal access to health-care providers, but not everyone has the type of job or the financial means to pay for good insurance. This is indicative of greater inequality. Other countries strive for a more equitable approach by providing free universal health care to all citizens.


3 Equality Examples

Providing equal opportunities for success is a fundamental principle of Western culture. These equality examples may help you understand the concept:

1. Anti-discrimination laws: During the 1960s, the Civil Rights Movement fought for racial equality under US common law. Similar movements fought in the following decades to end sex discrimination and achieve political equality for people of different sexual orientations. These movements contributed to greater social equality of opportunity for people of all backgrounds.

2. Public education: In most developed countries, the law requires equal access to public education programs. Still, critics argue that the quality of these public schools varies, implying that governments have yet to achieve equitable outcomes for all of their citizens.

3. Sports: Consider a baseball game. At the end of the day, regardless of how good or bad any of the players are, they must all play the game by the same set of rules. In other words, the teams competing against each other may not be equal or equitable, but they do follow a set of rules that are fair to both sides.


Why Does Equity Matter in the Workplace?

Everyone benefits from achieving equality of outcome in the workplace. Equity is important because it is a by-product of human rights concerns in general and can be very profitable for a company's balance sheet. If everyone knows they'll be treated the same and work on a team that values diversity, equity, and inclusion, they'll increase their productivity and a company's market value.


Why Does Equality Matter in the Workplace?

Everyone deserves to know that their employers will treat them fairly and will ensure that each co-worker has equal rights. As a matter of public policy, the United States government also requires employers to provide equal opportunities to all people. While equality of opportunity does not always result in equality of outcome, the pursuit of both results in a better workforce for all.


How to Improve Equity and Equality in the Workplace

Pursuing equity and equality can aid in the improvement of workplace morale. These pointers can assist you in accomplishing both in the workplace:

Identify disparities. Keep an eye out for inequities among your current employees. Strive for fair outcomes for all of your employees. For example, ensure an equitable hiring process for all racial and ethnic groups, as well as people of all gender identities and sexual orientations. Aim for the same results for all of your employees.

Pay attention to individual needs. Consider individual employees' needs and provide them with the level of support they require. Begin initiatives to ensure that everyone feels welcome and that everyone is treated fairly. Listen to your coworkers' suggestions for areas where you can improve.

Seek out collaborations. Sometimes you need the assistance of a third party to understand how equity works in the workplace. Collaborate with a DEI nonprofit to help guide your organization toward greater equality and equity. Inquire with current team members about how you can assist them.

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