If you have a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) program at your organization, you want to include all three elements in your strategy. Many companies, however, struggle with the idea of equity. What is equity? Why is it important? How do you make sure it shows up in your operations?
Let’s start with what equity is. Equality refers to treating everyone the same. On the surface, that seems like a great idea. The problem is it doesn’t acknowledge the fact that not everyone is starting in the same spot.
Equity is the idea that some groups and individuals need added support to remove barriers that could be holding them back.
Imagine a marathon. Equality means everyone starts at the same starting line and finishes at the same finish line. This can seem fair, but if some of the runners have a physical advantage, they’re going to win. But what if someone running in the same race is living with a physical disability or is older than the average runner? For these athletes, starting at the same finish line is anything but equal.
Why Is Equity Important in Business?
Just like diversity without inclusion leads to exclusion, diversity and inclusion without equity don’t create a welcoming and inviting workplace. Understanding equity is important for business in many ways.
It Improves Company Morale & Talent Retention
Imagine you were invited to run a race, but when you arrived, you were directed to a starting spot that was half a mile behind everyone else. And now imagine that you had to run wearing dress shoes.
Would it feel fair? No, this sounds like a nightmare.
While it’s a simple, low-stakes thought exercise, this is inequity in action. In the real world, inequity triggers that feeling of injustice — a feeling that some people have an unfair advantage that helps them get ahead. This sort of feeling can make it hard for workers to feel they have a chance at promotions, wage increases, and advancement. In turn, this can make them seek work elsewhere.
When workers feel a workplace is equitable, they can see themselves advancing. They know they can speak up. They may be more likely to stay. With equity, employees see a future at your company.
It Improves Workplace Performance
When a workplace is equitable, people with talent advance and get a chance to let their talent shine. They may feel better able to contribute and share ideas. Without equity, you’re only getting the benefit of some workers’ skills because some team members may not feel they can contribute.
DEI Doesn’t Work Without the “E”
When you encourage equity in your organization, you’re more likely to succeed in inclusion and diversity, too. The three work together. When you have equity, you foster a sense of fairness in the workplace, so you’re more likely to attract workers from a range of backgrounds and identities. They’ll feel comfortable working for your organization because they know they’ll be treated fairly.
You also need equity for inclusion. No one feels included when they aren’t treated fairly. By being equitable, you show you value everyone in your organization.
So How Do You Bring Equity Into Your Business?
Why is equity important in business? It helps you succeed and it creates true fairness. But equity won’t just magically show up at your company. In fact, it’s not showing up in many organizations. A Gallup poll found that only 28% of workers surveyed said their workplace was fair to all workers.
The good news is that once you understand the difference between equity and equality, you can cultivate equity. Here’s how:
Survey Your Team
If someone on your team thinks they are being treated unfairly, they may not feel they can speak up. Anonymous data-gathering and surveys let you ask the tough questions. You can ask your team whether they see inequity in the workplace so you can address these issues.
Evaluate Internal Equity
Internal equity means having policies that don’t leave some workers behind. For example, if you decide who is a “team player” at your company based on how many company events and meetings they attend, make sure everyone feels comfortable attending events and meetings to ensure more equity. This can mean having meetings and events in accessible spaces and at times when all workers can attend. It also means choosing venues where everyone feels welcome.
Look at your policies. Do they give preferential treatment to people who have had a head start — because they attended a prestigious college or have had time to take extra training outside of work hours? Consider internships and mentorships to give more people a chance. Reevaluate how you hand out rewards, awards, promotions, and praise. Does everyone truly have fair access to these perks?
Consider How External Inequity Could Be Affecting Your Workers
External equity refers to forces outside your organization that could be impacting your DEI efforts. These can be systemic or industry-wide assumptions, conditions, and biases that could be affecting your company.
Some industries have traditionally had little diversity. The private equity sector, for example, for many years has hired primarily white men, especially for leadership positions. That is slowly changing, and private equity firms are working to create better working conditions to attract talent of different genders, backgrounds, abilities, and races.
You can’t change the world, but you can address external inequity in your organization. You can do this by re-evaluating your hiring practices to make sure you give candidates from different backgrounds a fair chance. You can recruit outside of college job fairs and your usual networks to cast your net wider.
How Can Diversio Help?
Understanding the interplay between diversity, equity, and inclusion helps you build a fair, welcoming workplace — one where the best talent can thrive. But if you want to truly tackle inequity, you need to be able to find it and act on it. That’s where Diversio can help.
Diversio created the world’s first AI-powered DEI platform. When you partner with us, we gather, analyze, and benchmark DEI data, so you know exactly where the hidden pain points are. If your team feels something is unfair or if team members feel excluded, we can help you find this out. Then, our AI system can guide you to field-tested solutions you can implement right away to start seeing measurable solutions.
Our suite of services is designed to help you act on your DEI goals and create the sort of workplace that attracts and holds onto talent. See for yourself what we can do — book a demo now.