Words like equality, diversity, inclusion, environment, social justice, equity, governance, and cultural awareness have become staples in our most recent conversations. We want to be making gains in these areas. In those discussions there are two ideas that continue to come forward. This discussion only accounts for part of the culture we crave. Now our attention must turn to the next two ideas which are equity and equality.
Let’s face it, we will not all be given the same opportunities or have access to the same resources. That does not mean we can’t level set the steps forward with the equity. Just think about it…if we took the time to recognize and understand the impact of one other’s circumstances, we as a human race would be in a better position to provide opportunities or resources to recognize and shorten the distance found in the equity gap.
We need to have these conversations. They are important as we improve our environment, society, and governance in our organizations. As vital as the topics are, they are beginning to show up in these familiar ways:
Fatigue–Don’t make me.
Excited energy–It’s about time!
We’re so used to having these experiences in our own ways, on our own time. I believe many of us are at the point now, we’re ready to act! Like anything we have similarities in, I encourage us all to take a step back, clear away information fog and gain clarity by defining the difference between equality and equity. This will set us up to take meaningful action!
The Two E’s
While equality and equity are often used in conjunction, they are not the same thing. George Washington University’s Miliken Institute School of Public Health sums it up this way:
Equality means each individual or group of people is given the same resources or opportunities.
Equity recognizes that each person has different circumstances and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome.
Reaching the E—How We Do It
Although we don’t have equality, it doesn’t mean that we can’t have equity. This is what I mean:
Diversity and inclusion are terms we have explored in previous blogs. These words many organizations and communities are actively pursuing. Good on them! Collectively the relevance and importance of diversity and inclusion are starting to become part of our DNA. We understand the power of diversity is when we put it in motion to realize the impact of inclusion. Not only do we “get” diversity and inclusion, but we also value them. We are excited to know a person’s story: where they were born, how they grew up, what their strengths are, and what skills they have that can contribute to the community or team.
Now what we need to understand past embracing our differences, is how to bring balance when operating in a diverse and inclusive environment. How do we create a balance when there are differences? I don’t know about you, but for me, the differences breathe life into our workplaces and communities. That is where equity comes in.
With equity we are given the unique opportunity to become a more connected, stronger body of people that leverages differences and fills in the gaps while still strengthening our individual self to be a stronger part of the greater body.
My writer friend said that she can use words to describe something but if that something is an equation, that math is better left to someone with a better knowledge of numbers. Equity can be achieved when you embrace what you know, accept what you don’t, and work to strengthen others using this knowledge.
How Far We Have to Go
If we understand there is no effective inclusion without equity, we know the question isn’t how far we have to go, but how much do we have to do to strengthen this idea. The conversations are helping but now we need to do more, keep going, so that it becomes second nature. This means equity is achievable through our continual growth and lived experiences when we embrace each other.
To do this, we should always ask ourselves:
- What can I do to level the playing field? In essence, how do we support our fellow human to be the best they can be?
- What can our organizations and communities do to promote and live equality as a value
I invite you to step back, breathe, and reenter. To create the best in each of us, truly valuing the worth and contributions of individuals, we must be willing to understand that each one of us brings different experiences. We need to shift our mindset to understand the unmeasurable worth in our differences. Opening ourselves to listen to the differences between culture, while seeking our common spaces, is the work we need to continue to move forward toward equity.
- Recognize your strength
- Recognize your weakness
- Allow equity to balance the scales