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Equity and equality at work are two different yet very important aspects in any working environment. It is, therefore, wise for employers and employees to distinguish these terms to implement the concepts since they affect the overall output significantly.
Equity and equality are terms employers, and employees use in the workplace. Many still use them interchangeably, even though they are different. It means that people at work may not clearly understand the differences and importance of both aspects.
Equity and equality in the workplace are essential as they dictate various key aspects of cultivating a healthy work environment. They can also affect employee engagement, company culture, and retention rates.
Learning the differences between equality and equity is the starting point of creating a better work environment where all employees are respected, heard, and given equal opportunity.
The information below details the key differences between these two aspects. It also covers the importance and benefits of equality and equity.
Equity in the workplace ensures fairness in the access to support, opportunities, and aspects needed to succeed in the workplace with regard to individual needs and aspirations.
Equity seeks to level the playing field, where employers recognize the varying access to resources and privileges among individual employees and then provide more support to some employees to ensure they can take advantage of opportunities and not get left behind.
Equity focuses on individual and specific needs determined by demographic traits in the organization. Management then offers targeted support to the various demographic groups. Management support bridges gaps between majority and minority groups so the latter can have equal opportunity.
Equity is a crucial part of DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion); a blanket term that describes the strategies, policies, programs, and practices that implement a company’s goal to develop and maintain an inclusive, diverse, and equitable workplace.
Without equity, employees will not receive the support and resources required to thrive. Equity can improve the quality of work life, thus benefiting the company's performance. It also improves a company's reputation regarding diversity, which is gaining momentum globally.
Some studies show that organizations with diverse management teams have a better chance of bringing 19% higher revenues than those without.
In addition, a majority of workers have spoken out in a recent survey expressing their desires to be employed in companies that value diversity, equity, and inclusion. Therefore, equity can directly affect hiring, giving employees a better chance of acquiring top talent.
Cultivating equity in the workplace leads to benefits such as:
● Reducing employee turnover
When management offers solutions for the different needs of employees, the workers develop a sense of belonging, appreciation, and loyalty to company goals. Employee satisfaction often translates to better retention rates.
● Encouraging better performance
Management support for equitability motivates employees to achieve more. It aligns with Adam’s Equity Theory, founded on the idea that people are motivated by fairness.
● Developing targeted upskilling
Equity helps to develop targeted programs that give individual employees what they need to succeed. Instead of assuming that every employee has the same knowledge and experience, equity encourages focus training, addressing unique needs.
● Attracting top talent
Equitable practices are more attractive to job seekers. Candidates are looking for a company where DEI hiring is valued and practised.
Promoting equity in a workplace demands leadership teams like managers and human resource managers to identify opportunity gaps and then provide support to fill those gaps.
Therefore, it makes sense to start by researching the demographics of the employees, junior and senior. With this information, it becomes easy to set equity goals. Managers should focus on things like:
● Prioritizing wage equity
● Evaluating and adjusting hiring practices
● Examining company policies and changing them (if needed) to accommodate diversity
● Investing in an education program that addresses systemic barriers.
Equality is the lack of discrimination. This definition is the simplest way to explain equality. It means offering equal work opportunities and fairness to candidates and employees regardless of race, religion, sex and gender identity, sexual orientation, disabilities and genetic information, age, ethnicity, and other protected characteristics.
Equality means that everyone is accepted for their differences, and nobody is denied an opportunity because of said contrasts. It gives everyone access to the same resources and opportunities.
Equality in the workplace is not just a choice by employers but a requirement. Countries have laws that discourage discrimination against employees and job seekers because of physical factors and orientations.
Discrimination in the workplace is when a person or group receives unfair treatment due to various characteristics. Discrimination can occur:
● During recruiting
Hiring managers can discriminate against people when creating job advertisements and shortlisting candidates.
● During hiring
Job providers can overlook candidates or offer contracts with different conditions than what other job seekers would have received.
● During employment
Employees can face discrimination in the form of denied training, exclusion from social events, unfair termination, denied credit for work and overlooked benefits and promotions.
Discrimination can occur between coworkers, employees and employers, and towards job applicants. Whether by accident or regardless of intention, discrimination can affect the company and its bottom line primarily because it affects employee performance.
It is why equality programs are essential to employers. Equality seeks to identify and eliminate discrimination in the workplace.
Companies that are keen on equality at work enjoy benefits such as:
● Highlights employees’ potential
When employees receive an equal chance to access opportunities and enhance their skills, it brings out their potential. Managers can better see individual motivations, talents, ambitions, and achievements, propelling the company to a new level. It can also enhance the selection process for managers, promotions, and high-level employees.
● Improves company reputation and protects against litigation
Equality is a requirement by law in most countries. Company owners can avoid litigation since equality reduces discrimination, complaints, and grievances. It goes a long way into creating and maintaining a good brand reputation.
● Gives companies access to a broader talent pool
Making job opportunities open to everyone despite different backgrounds offers companies access to a wider talent pool. It increases the chances of hiring qualified and best-experienced applicants. Of course, managers would have to spend more time screening and managing applicants, but hiring software can streamline the process.
Managers must take a hard look at their current work environments. Examining the workplace should outline respected equality laws and obvious issues or gaps contributing to inequality. Then, employers and managers can focus on:
● Changing the hiring process into a holistic and less prejudiced activity.
● Bridging wage gaps among same-level employees, especially between the different genders.
● Examine and remove prejudices in company policies.
● Foster a culture that acknowledges and respects individual backgrounds and differences.
● Set up training sessions that teach employees the importance of diversity and equality.
Equality means that employees receive the same opportunities and resources to advance their career, skillset, etc., regardless of differences. On the other hand, equity recognizes individual circumstances and provides the exact resources and support needed to succeed.
Scenario: The employer is rolling out uniforms to employees.
An example of equality: The employer will give every employee a uniform.
An example of equity: The employer will recognize individual differences and issue uniforms in different sizes.
Equity and Equality are important, and understanding the difference is the key to cultivating a good work environment where diversity is celebrated, and nobody is left behind.
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