Equity Vs. Equality: What’s The Difference?

Dr. Ryan Giffen

Some people think that equity and equality are synonymous. Although the end goal may look the same on paper, equity and equality are quite different. If you manage a business, it is essential to know the difference between the two when building policies, guidelines, etc. so that you can create a healthy work environment for your employees and foster growth for your business. Here is a closer look:

What is Equality in the Workplace?

In business, the word equality has a broad application. The “bare-bones” definition of equality deals with the fair treatment of everyone in the workplace in spite of gender, race, beliefs, and other “definers” that make people who they are. Promoting equality and diversity in the workplace has many advantages; below are just a few.

New Skills and Strong-Points

Equality, diversity, and inclusion can help allow employees to feel as though they have a voice. With this type of empowerment, you will see new ideas and better decisions emerge from the ground up. 

Reputation and a Wider Market

With equality comes diversity, with diversity in the workplace comes diversity in the marketplace. When your business has a reputation for fairness, you will see that your “reach” will grow and become diverse as well. This is important so that your market can ‘lex and grow in a positive direction while your company maintains a positive reputation.

Less Hassle

Aside from the intrinsic importance that equality should hold, upholding will also make things easier for you and your business. When all of your employees feel as though they are being treated equally by the company and by each other, you will have lower employee turnover to deal with and less unneeded drama. A clear conscience is a major plus as well.

Equity to Achieve Equality

What is equity then? Think of equity as a practical approach to equality, or the means by which you can achieve equality. Equity deals with each individual and his or her needs instead of a blanket accommodation that looks the same for everyone. A good example of equity vs. equality can be found when watering plants. Equality would mean that each plant gets the same amount of water at the same frequency, whereas equity would mean that each plant would get watered according to its specific needs. Each plant has an equal quality of life instead of an equal amount of water. 

Each employee will have individual and specific needs that may not be the same across the board. Some employees may need more or different kinds of accommodation to experience equality. This is important to consider while structuring policies so that the end-goal of equality can be met for everyone and that diversity can be promoted. Equity can also be seen as “leveling the playing field.” Equity should be applied anywhere that equality is the goal.

Using equity to achieve equality in the workplace is essential in keeping a positive environment, diversity, and low employee turnover. With these essential advantages, you will see your productivity and overall growth increase.

About Dr. Ryan Giffen

With over 20 years of experience, Dr. Ryan Giffen is an expert in human relations and business culture. His career began in hospitality, leading operations and human resource departments for Fortune 500 companies and the like. Not long after, Ryan found his passion for teaching and consulting. He earned a Ph.D. in Hospitality Management with a Human Resources focus from Iowa State University and now works as an assistant professor at California State University, Long Beach. For over a decade, he continues to research and speak on organizational culture, relationship intelligence, and leadership effectiveness. Ryan is also the founder of Inospire, a company helping bosses and employees build stronger relationships with one another.  Lastly, Dr. Giffen is producer and host of the Corporate Shadow Podcast. a show helping everyday employees overcome workplace nonsense.