Equality Vs Equity - What’s the Difference?
International Women’s Day
International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate the social, political, cultural and economic achievements of women around the world. It’s a good time to reflect on how far we have come in terms of gender equality, and to think about how much there is still to achieve.
Pay gaps are a good signifier when thinking about equality - previously we explored racial bias in the influencer pay gap. Over the last decade the gender pay gap has decreased on average by approximately a quarter. But in 2022 the gap among full-time employees actually increased to 8.3%, up from 7.7% in 2021 (Office for National Statistics, 2022). Clearly conversations about equality are more relevant than ever.
This year, the organisers of IWD are emphasising a focus on embracing equity. But what is the difference between equality and equity? And why should you and your team #EmbraceEquity this International Women’s Day?
Equality and Equity: What do they mean?
Equality refers to treating everyone the same, regardless of their needs or circumstances. It rests on an assumption that everyone starts from the same place and has the same opportunities.
Applying equality should mean that everyone has equal opportunities and rights. But in a system where people face challenges based on factors such as gender, race and disability, equal opportunity doesn’t mean equal outcome.
Simply put, when inequalities like the gender pay gap still loom large, aiming for equal treatment doesn’t cut it.
Equity refers to giving people the resources they need and taking into account their unique circumstances. Equity recognises that individuals have different starting points, and so need different support to reach their potential.
What does this look like in practice?
Equity means giving people the support and resources that they lack, to enable them to achieve. For example, in a classroom, equality would be giving every child a laptop. Equity would involve recognising that some children already have access to laptops and others do not, and dividing the resources accordingly.
Achieving gender equity requires a sustained commitment to addressing the structural and systemic barriers that prevent different women from reaching their full potential.
You can apply this in the workplace and in daily life - here are some suggestions:
ᐧ Challenge gender roles and be open to different expressions of gender identity.
ᐧ Ditch the one-size-fits-all approach. Issues around gender equality are nuanced!
ᐧ Support flexible working arrangements so that people can work around their own personal needs.
ᐧ Encourage conversations about gender equality and different experiences - the best way to know what women around you need is to ask!
ᐧ Use your voice! Challenge discriminatory language and behaviour when you see it, and encourage others to do the same.
More than a marketing trend
Global observance days such as International Women’s Day are important. They encourage us all to reflect on our engagement with social issues. However, they are more than just marketing trends. At Wholehearted we focus on diversity and inclusion all year round.
Applying the concept of equity to gender issues means recognising that women face unique challenges that require tailored solutions. This involves emphasis on fairness and justice, rather than blanket solutions for all.
In essence, equity means going beyond providing equal access, and working to create conditions where everyone has the support they need. Equity is the way to achieve equality.
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