Imagine you are designing the world’s first race track.
At first glance, it makes sense to have the racers start side by side in the same place considering they will end in the same place, right?
However, having everyone start at the same place doesn’t take into account the longer distance the runner on the outside of the track will have to run.
In order to be fair, racers are proportionately staggered at their starting points.
This is equity.
The key difference between equity and equality is how they frame fairness.
In equality, fairness is defined as treating everyone equally. Everyone gets the same opportunities. Everyone has access to the same resources.
In equity, fairness is dependent on social and historical context. Equity takes the context of a situation into account before determining what is fair and equal.
Let's take this a step further and consider minorities.
Historically, minority groups have had a longer race to run.
Consider underfunded schools in minority neighborhoods disadvantaging those who are trying to get an education.
Consider the higher arrest and conviction rates within those communities that then damages future prospects in schooling and employment.
With this in mind, consider how difficult it would be as a minority person to get a job when the decision is potentially based on your disadvantaged education and public record.
Also take into account that you're dealing with a level of implicit bias toward your community that exists in all of us, including hiring managers and leaders throughout organizations.
Now, none of these are necessarily universal experiences for minorities, but together they paint a picture I would not call a testament to fairness and equality.
So, how do we create and maintain an equitable environment in our organizations, teams, and leadership?
Model Equity in Your Organization
The first step is assessing our hiring practices as we work toward building a more diverse and inclusive work environment.
According to an article written by Forbes Council Member, Jim Link, attracting diverse talent is usually accompanied by the kind of diversity you can quantify such as different ethnic backgrounds, genders, and ages at all levels within an organization.
Building a more diverse work environment provides many advantages.
Studies have shown that a diverse workforce increases creativity, productivity, performance, and global impact.