Workplace Equity over Equality

Equality is the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, and opportunities. Equity the quality of being fair and impartial.

Society is working so hard toward equality, we seem to think equity is simply unfair; we have forgotten that everyone is different and, therefore, requires different opportunities to be successful.

Everyone is born into this world with different economic classes, different backgrounds, personalities, and traits. All of these play a role in the development of each person, making us all different; therefore, we need to treat our employees like unique individuals instead of a group of average people.

We all have probably seen the image that depicts three people trying to watch a baseball game from behind a fence: one tall, one medium, and one small. They are all standing on boxes. Only two out of three of them can see the game while standing on the box. This is equality; it can be tough to understand, but equality can only work if everyone starts from the same place.

Using the example from the baseball game, if everyone was the same height, equality would be perfect and make complete sense. Unfortunately, that’s not how life works; you can see this in the equity or fairness depiction.

Our differences can create barriers to participation. Before we give everyone the same treatment in the workplace, we have to make sure that we are catering towards everyone’s unique strengths and weaknesses in order to make sure everyone has the same opportunity to succeed.

With equality, we are giving everyone the same tools to be successful but only basing it on how the average person works or acts. The similarities between this and equity are pretty evident, but the main difference is that most people aren’t average. Giving them all the same tools sounds like a good idea in the beginning, but it’s tough for some people to use these tools if they simply will not work for that individual.

It’s not about teaching them to be average; it’s about using the unique way that they were built to give each individual a separate, catered treatment that leans more toward their strengths.

Leaders in the workplace, which include anyone who has supervision over someone else, play a very important role in every business. Leaders are mentors. The main part of their job is to do everything in their power to help the people under them grow and learn so that someday they too can be successful in a leadership role. We need equity in the workplace because we need to treat our employees like unique individuals instead of a group of average people.

Brandon Lyon is the president of City Segment, a marketing agency focused on local strategies, and a participant in the 2018 Aurora Chamber Leadership Academy.


One Response to “Workplace Equity over Equality”

  1. Angela V. says:

    I agree! We need to focus more on equity. People come from different backgrounds and life situations and it is important to provide the right tools for success.