29 December 2023

Equality vs equity: what's the difference?

Equality vs equity: what's the difference?

Are you ready to embark on a professional journey that embraces the concepts of equality and equity? Let's dive in and explore the nuances of these crucial ideas.

On one hand we have equality, the cornerstone of a just society, emphasizing uniform treatment for all individuals, regardless of their backgrounds or circumstances. It’s a vision of a society without prejudice. But is it enough? The quest for genuine fairness recognizes that different individuals require different resources to reach the same level of opportunity and success. Enter equity – the paradigm that addresses disparities by acknowledging and rectifying the unique challenges faced by various groups. Just as inclusion is the evolution of diversity so equity is the advancement of equality.

Now, as a job seeker, you might be wondering: does equal access to opportunities always translate into equitable outcomes? The answer is not always. In today's professional landscape, we strive for inclusivity. And that means navigating the delicate balance between promoting equal opportunities and advocating for the distribution of resources tailored to individual needs.

This introspective journey empowers job seekers like you to seek not only fairness in hiring processes but also to actively contribute to fostering environments where diverse talents can truly flourish. This means that the talk of equality vs equity is as important to employers as it is to employees and potential employees alike. Let’s get into the nitty gritty. 

What is equality?

In the context of employment, equality is all about being fair and impartial to everyone, regardless of their background, characteristics, or circumstances. So, when it comes to potential employees and job seekers, equality should be in mind every step of the way. It ensures that everyone gets an equal shot at success based on their skills and merit.

They actively seek out diverse candidates, design inclusive hiring processes, and make sure everyone gets fair compensation, no matter their gender, race, or anything else. The goal? To eliminate those pesky barriers and create a workplace where talent and merit shine through, no matter what biases may exist.

Let's talk about the recruitment phase. Equality means assessing each candidate based on their skills, qualifications, and experience without any bias. Employers strive to create job descriptions and requirements that are inclusive and relevant, avoiding anything that might unfairly disadvantage certain groups. And hey, equal access to job information is key too, making sure folks from all walks of life know about the opportunities and can apply.

Now, interviews and assessments. Employers aim to treat every candidate fairly and equally, creating a level playing field. That means no discriminatory questions, using the same evaluation criteria for everyone, and fostering an environment where folks feel comfy showing off their skills and potential.

To recap, equality in employment is all about tearing down walls and creating a space where talent and skills are king. But things are not as peachy as they might seem since we even have talk of equality vs equity.

Comparison of equality and equity

What is equity?

When it comes to employment, equity is about more than just equal treatment. It's about recognizing and addressing the unique challenges individuals face due to their diverse backgrounds. Recognizing that equal footing still leaves people at a disadvantage. So, how can we make things fair for everyone?

In practical terms, equity might involve implementing initiatives that actively counteract historical disadvantages. For example, a company committed to equity might establish mentorship programs, providing additional guidance and support for underrepresented groups seeking to advance in their careers. Additionally, flexible work arrangements or childcare support can be offered to address specific challenges faced by employees, promoting a more equitable balance between work and personal responsibilities.

In terms of recruitment, an equitable approach would involve targeted outreach to diverse communities, actively seeking to dismantle systemic barriers that may limit access to job opportunities. Companies striving for equity also engage in salary transparency and fair compensation practices to bridge wage gaps that may exist based on factors such as gender or ethnicity.

By embracing equity, employers aim to create an inclusive environment where diversity is not just acknowledged but actively supported, allowing each individual to thrive based on their unique strengths and contributions. For job seekers, understanding and seeking out employers who prioritize equity can ensure a workplace where their skills are valued and their potential can flourish no matter what. So how does all of this manifest itself in the discussion of equality vs equity?

Equality vs equity.

The best way to understand the difference in equality vs equity is through the fence metaphor. Imagine three people of different heights wanting to see something over a fence taller than any of them and which, unless you’re looking over it, obscures their vision completely. Their task is to describe what’s on the other side of the fence.

Equality mandates all three of them be given boxes or stools of equal heights. Same treatment for everyone, irrespective of where they come from. This might help one person to see over the fence, but not all three. In turn, this creates an illusion that the tallest person is more skilled than the others because they were the only one to accurately describe the scene behind the fence. In reality the other two never even had a chance.

On the other hand, equity asks us to look at specific disadvantages that these three people have and act accordingly. The tallest person getting the lowest box or stool but still enough for them to see over the fence.The shortest person getting the highest box or stool in order to be able to see over the fence just as well. Only then can they be fairly assessed based on their skills in description and not their height.

In this way, all three are given fair treatment through a more human perspective where we actively try to include people and give them the best possible attempt at success. Making sure that we don’t disadvantage and ostracize people in the name of perceived equality. 

Why equity is important. 

By drawing parallels between the fence metaphor and real life it’s easy to see why the talk of equality vs equity is becoming more and more important. If we apply this to the recruitment process it’s even more painfully obvious. 

The simplest real-life example is street crossings. An inclined street crossing with bumps along its entire length, with pedestrian traffic lights that also sound off when the light is green is a prime example of equity. People without and disabilities do not need all of this in a crossing, but, we add them to create an inclusive environment for everyone so that they can cross the street without fear and with access to equal information.

During recruitment, companies should do everything and anything to ensure that they receive and hire the best possible candidates based on skills. Businesses that do this show that they care about your skills and expertise, and that they are prime businesses to grow as a professional

In conclusion.

Equality vs equity is an important discussion to have and to keep in mind. As the professional landscape continues to evolve, job seekers armed with an awareness of these nuances become agents of change, contributing to the creation of workplaces where talent is recognized, potential is nurtured, and opportunities are truly accessible to all. Businesses that offer this make sure that everyone is measured by their contribution and create a truly inclusive professional atmosphere. If you want to come as you are and join an inclusive business like Transcom, take a look at our jobs, and let’s get you started on a brilliant career.