March 18, 2022
Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) are key pillars supporting a fair and welcoming work culture for all employees. Equity in particular gives people the right to be different by ensuring they enjoy equal access to workplace opportunities.
Equity is not about treating everyone the same. It’s about leveling the playing field by giving people the tools and resources they need to realize their true potential and make their best contribution.
Some examples of how organizations can promote equity is through equal pay, accommodations, training to fill gaps in knowledge and skills, flexible work options, mentoring programs, career advancement, equitable benefits and more.
A Catalyst report found that two thirds of Generation Z employees, born between 1997 and 2012, rate equal opportunities for pay and promotion and learning as the top two factors that build trust with an employer.
What is the difference between equity and equality?
Although equity and equality sound similar, they are not synonymous.
Equality seeks to provide all employees with access to the same opportunities, regardless of the pre-existing barriers they may face. It fails to address challenges often encountered by underrepresented employees and instead assumes everyone has identical needs despite what they have or don’t have.
Equity, on the other hand, seeks to provide resources to employees based on their individual circumstances and needs. It provides varying levels of tools and support to level the playing field so everyone can take fair advantage of a company’s opportunities.
5 steps organizations can take to promote equity at work
- Provide DEI training
Ongoing training to increase workforce awareness of diversity, equity and inclusion helps employees understand the importance of fairness in the workplace and how equity becomes a catalyst for individual, team and company achievement.
- Hire with equity in mind
Incorporate equity into recruiting and hiring practices by attracting candidates from nontraditional backgrounds. Instead of focusing on degree requirements, emphasize skills and previous work. Remove unconscious bias from the selection process by using structured interviews, blind short listing and collaborative hiring.
- Enable a tailored work experience
Support employees’ needs, preferences and circumstances. Provide paid time off, sick leave, flexible work schedules, telework options, and paid family medical leave to help support employees who are parents, disabled or caretakers for a relative.
- Prioritize equitable access
Is your meeting room wheelchair friendly? Do you provide closed captions on a video presentation? Be sure to provide employees with equal access to physical spaces and materials, as well as resources and opportunities.
- Provide equal opportunities for growth
When measuring individual performance, awarding raises and offering promotions, utilize the same standards to evaluate all employees. Be sure everyone is given an equal opportunity to grow into positions of leadership and seek to provide diverse representation across all levels of an organization.
Equity is key to achieving a DEI culture by ensuring all employees have access to the resources, tools and support they need to realize their full potential. Ongoing DEI training raises workplace awareness of diverse backgrounds and lived experiences to foster an empathetic and supportive environment where employees thrive.