Organizations have recently spent many resources and time improving workplace equity, diversity, and inclusion. Many companies already incorporate diversity in their workplaces; however, people from marginalized backgrounds have raised awareness about being excluded from conversations and opportunities.
This exclusion has increased calls for businesses to build a culture of inclusion, equity, and diversity. When we talk about equity, we refer to the provision of equal opportunities to every individual in the workplace based on their needs. In this era of polarized political views, it is crucial to understand the difference between equality and equity, especially as they pertain to the workplace.
Most people use the two words synonymously, but they mean different things. While equality is an important concept that drives the company in the right direction, equity recognizes each person’s needs and access to privileges and resources.
In equality, resources and opportunities are distributed among workers on the same level. Equality doesn’t consider the barriers any team members may have to utilize these resources or opportunities; its focus is to provide every team member with the right to assess the resources or opportunities.
In equity, resources are not provided to everyone. Rather those with less access to those opportunities are given priority or support before the others. Equity looks at the privileges and access to resources each person has had before providing the resources. Many organizations do not know how to create equity in the workplace. For these organizations, equality is the same as equity in their books, but this couldn’t be any further from the truth.
Applying equity in the workplace can be complicated because what many people consider equitable and fair is mostly subjective and a product of individual experiences. Notwithstanding, business leaders can still achieve equity by supporting marginalized groups and creating an environment where everyone can have civil discourse. Maintaining equity in the workplace rests majorly on the shoulders of the leaders.
When the leader sets the ball of equity rolling, it is easy for team members to follow suit. As a leader, you should be able to foster equity, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace.
Leaders should promote equality in the workplace by treating every employer with equal respect and dignity irrespective of their background and providing them with the same opportunities as everyone else. In the same way, it is also crucial that equity, the proportional representation of the same opportunities, is practiced in the workplace.
For a company to succeed, it must promote equity and inclusion to level the playing ground and provide a positive team member experience. The promotion of equity in the business environment might seem easy enough. Still, for most leaders in the workplace, it is a hard task.
To promote equity in an organization, a leader should:
Going to school and acquiring a degree is a privilege many did not have. Higher education is expensive, so it’s not surprising that not everyone can afford it or access it. Nevertheless, this should not limit them from opportunities if they have the skills necessary to accomplish the task.
Instead of making the recruitment process a degree-based process, the focus should be on prior work experience and skills. Suppose your organization has a workforce education program. In that case, it is an opportunity to give employees without a degree a chance to earn one.
Any company that provides spousal health insurance can promote inclusivity and equity by making health insurance available for non-traditional families and all couples. Also, fathers should be able to benefit from parental leave just as mothers do.
Many incentives that most companies offer revolve around formal dress codes or alcohol. This can prevent some employees from being involved. To avoid exclusion, the company should make the incentives recognition-based or financial.
As a leader, you should ensure that all team members have access to opportunities and resources provided by the organization. There should also be access to materials and physical spaces. For instance, is your office room wheelchair accessible? Are there adjustments for employees with sensory sensitivities? It is also necessary to put captions on a video presentation if there is none.
Still, if all these things are there, it will be for naught if the employees do not know they have access to these resources and can take advantage of them. As a leader, you must inform your team members about these resources and how to assess and use them.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion have come to stay in the workplace, and any business that wants to succeed must incorporate these concepts. Business leaders should be at the forefront of promoting equity in the workplace because it will level the playing field and ensure that every team member is given the unique resources they require to assess the opportunities the organization provides. When done, the business environment will be more cohesive, and productivity will increase.