Workplace Equity And Equality – Learn everything you need to know!
When it comes to improving your workplace, there is a lot that needs to be done, and one such thing is inculcating the value of fairness in the workplace. When talking about fairness, you have to understand the real meanings of equity and equality. Moreover, you should also know why these terms matter in the workplace.
Equity and equality – However, there are two letters difference in these words, but it is more than that. There is a significant difference in the meanings of both these terms, especially in the context of a workplace. People often tend to confuse while using these terms, but the difference between these terms goes beyond mere semantics. Managers should understand the significant difference to build a positive work environment. Read the following blog to have a better understanding of workplace equity and equality.
What does equality mean in the workplace?
According to an HR Technologist, equality in the company means treating everyone in the same way. It simply refers to giving all employees equal opportunities, regardless of their sexual orientation, race, religion, gender, age, and other demographics. All employees should fall under one blanket of rules, privileges, opportunities, etc. Although this may look like a good inclusion strategy, but organizations should understand that not all workers begin from the starting point. If the company treats everyone the same way, employee-specific requirements will not be taken into account. This can aggregate inequality in the company.
Here is an example of workplace equality. While hiring candidates, each applicant should get an equal amount of time to complete the assignment.
What is equity in the workplace?
Equity refers to offering the same opportunities to all employees while considering their individual needs as well. This means fairness and equality in results and not just resources. If the workplace considers equity, it acknowledges the specific needs of employees related to demographics such as gender, religion, race, ethnicity, and more. The troubles faced by certain employees will be taken into consideration while making any decision. With equity, all employees are empowered to put their best foot forward, and they feel like they are supported. In short, equity is necessary to eliminate the difference between minority and majority groups.
Let’s understand this by an example of hiring. Equity means giving the same work assignment to all candidates, but for instance, say, people with dyslexia will get extra time to complete the assignment. This simply means they have extra reading time to level the playing field.
Difference between equality and equity
Many people get confused while using these terms. Managers should learn the difference between these terms to build a workplace that fosters inclusion, equity, diversity, and belonging.
Equality is the idea that everybody deserves equal opportunities and the same treatment. But equity is the idea that everyone deserves the same, and therefore, they should get the treatment they need to be their best selves.
To achieve equality and equity in the workplace, you have to be fair in all your decisions, including hiring decisions and compensations. To establish a fair hiring process, you can use video interview software and make data-driven decisions.
Simply put, equality is the end goal, and equity is the way to get there.
Why does equity matter in the workplace?
As mentioned, equality is about giving the same resources to everyone, whereas equity is all about providing resources based on individuals’ needs. From this, we can say that the ability to listen and empathize is more important than just providing the same resources to each employee.
According to a survey, four in five employees want to work for an organization that values equity, diversity, and inclusion. By shifting your approach from treating everyone equally to treating them equitably, you can become a better leader. Here are some reasons why equity matters in the workplace.
• Promotes open communication
When equity is instilled in the workplace, people feel comfortable contributing to sharing ideas, discussions, etc. As employees don’t hesitate to share their ideas, it sparks innovation that helps in problem-solving. You will get to know different perspectives, which can be very beneficial for your business.
• Creates an inclusive and productive work environment
When you are building a truly equitable workplace, you can easily foster an inclusive work environment. In such a workplace culture, people are not afraid of showing their real selves. Apart from their aspirations and talents, they also embrace their doubts, insecurities, and worries. In simple words, managers can easily establish an environment where everyone is allowed to freely express their opinions.
Moreover, people are more productive in an equitable work environment. The simple reason is that they feel valued when you consider their needs. When employees feel heard or valued, they are more likely to perform better.
• Improved employee engagement
Although workplace equity is a challenging task, but you will avail various benefits after instilling it in the workplace. One such benefit is improved employee engagement. When employees feel they are being valued, they tend to stay engaged with their work. Engaged employees are always motivated to perform their tasks in a better way.
• Better employee retention
Companies with an equitable (and inclusive) culture have better retention rates. These organizations have 22% lower turnover rates. Employees who work in a productive, inclusive, and equitable environment are more satisfied with their work. They tend to stay longer with the company. A good retention rate is also important for attracting quality candidates.
Equality and equity relationship to diversity and inclusion
Equality and equity are strongly related to a diverse and inclusive environment. You may have heard so much about diversity and inclusion, but only in terms of promotion, retention, and talent attraction. But you may have never thought about what a diverse and inclusive workforce looks like from a more holistic perspective; that’s what equity is.
The first step to the journey of equity is diversity. As we all know, companies must attract a diverse workforce to enhance their productivity. People from different ages, genders, and backgrounds can bring different perspectives to work that can be really beneficial for business productivity.
Once you have created a diverse workforce, the next step is inclusion. In an inclusive workplace, leaders encourage all their employees to share their opinions. When employees have the freedom to share their views, they feel empowered.
When employees are empowered to bring their unique thoughts to the table, they know that they are being valued equally. This is what equality is. Employees understand that their leader values them equally.
Once you have achieved all three stages, equity will occur naturally. Equity is not just a step; it is a state. You can’t exactly define what equity is like because it varies with the organization. But, in general, equity is when diverse candidates have specific opportunities and support to grow.
How to shift from equality to equity in the workplace?
While equal opportunity and equal treatment may seem like the right approach, but employees will not reach their full potential if you neglect their specific needs. With the following steps, you can start transitioning to equitable practices in your company.
• Look at the data
Before tackling inclusive initiatives, you must understand where your company stands. Take a deep dive into your current state, and see what changes are needed. Start with collecting relevant diversity measures like demographic data on sexual orientation, gender diversity, origin, race, etc. As per the collected data, you should set targets for making the desired changes.
• Consider various stages of the employee life cycle
To structure your efforts, first of all, look at the different stages of the employee life cycle. Ask yourself how equity and equality are present in different stages of the employee life cycle. Then, think about how you can make people’s experiences more equitable in all phases of the employee life cycle.
• Ask for feedback
Gathering feedback is really important for creating a workforce that promotes equity. Get in touch with candidates to know their experience during the hiring process. Moreover, you must also ask about employees’ experience of working with your company till now. Also, make sure to ask about experience in different stages of the employee life cycle to strengthen your feedback-gathering efforts.
To solicit feedback, you can have one-on-one meetings with your workers frequently. You can even conduct some surveys to know about employees’ views on working with your organization. Fulfill specific needs of employees who asked for it during the feedback process.
• Foster diverse leadership
Diverse leadership is not about hiring a diverse team; it goes beyond that. For the best employee experience, change should be started from the top. Employees may feel like they are not supported or heard if there are no people with similar characteristics or backgrounds as them in leadership. Therefore, you should focus on fostering diversity in the company’s management and leadership.
• Focus on pay equity
One of the most visible parts of equity is pay equity. It simply means paying the same amount to employees who are doing work of equal value. These different roles are equal in terms of skills and efforts. Pay equity is essential to promote a fair and positive environment in the workplace.
You must conduct a pay equity analysis and make strategies to uncover these gaps. Another thing is to stop asking about the salary history of applicants. Many USA states have already started following this approach. Banning salary history has increased salaries by 6.2% for job-changing women and 5.9% for non-White people.
Summing it up
Establishing an equitable work environment needs a lot of effort. You can’t do it in one go; it is a continuous process of collecting feedback, optimizing what is necessary, and starting again. You will achieve it gradually. Becoming an equitable employer means offering an inclusive space where each employee can thrive. It will also help your business reap numerous benefits. Once you have built an equitable workforce, you will experience better productivity.