Unraveling Equity: An Exploration of Its Meaning and How You Can Practice it in the Workplace

Understand what it really means and explore practical steps to implement it in your organization.

Siena Beacham, Storytelling & Content CatalystMay 12, 2024 8:31 PM
Unraveling Equity: An Exploration of Its Meaning and How You Can Practice it in the Workplace

In the realm of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), the term 'equity' carries profound significance. However, its understanding often remains elusive, causing a gap in its application in organizational contexts. So let's delve deeper into this.

Have you ever wondered about the difference between 'equality' and 'equity'? It's a common question, and understanding the distinction is vital. Equality means treating everyone the same. But is that always the best approach? Consider this: we all have unique needs and circumstances. Don't we deserve to have these recognized and accommodated? That's where equity comes in. It emphasizes acknowledging individual uniqueness and needs. How might this look in your own life or workplace? And why is it so crucial to our society?

In an ideal scenario of equity, consider a workplace where resources are distributed not equally, but according to the unique needs of each employee. For instance, an employee with a physical disability might need special equipment or a flexible schedule, while another who is a single parent might need childcare support or flexible working hours. By providing resources based on individual needs, the organization ensures that each employee has an equal opportunity to succeed. This concept is crucial in creating workplaces that are fair, inclusive, and just.

Operationalizing Equity: Practical Steps for Immediate Action

While equity might seem complex, it can be operationalized through small changes that lead to significant transformations over time. Here are a few actionable steps:

Allocate Resources Based on Individual Needs

In any setting - be it a school, a workplace, or a community initiative - it's crucial to allocate resources based on individual needs. This need-based approach fosters an environment that is conducive to success. It might mean providing additional support to students who are struggling, allowing flexible working hours for employees with caregiving responsibilities, or ensuring that community services are accessible to those who need them most. By recognizing and accommodating individual needs, we can create more equitable environments that enable everyone to reach their full potential.

Offer Flexibility in Schedules

Workplace flexibility should encompass not just location but also time, particularly for parents. Offering flexible schedules can help to promote gender equity.

To cater to our team members spread across multiple time zones, and acknowledging that each employee has unique working schedules that best suit them for productivity, we've adopted asynchronous work schedules. This approach ensures that everyone can work during the hours they find most conducive, thus promoting both individual performance and overall team productivity.

We harness the power of technology tools like Slack and Notion to facilitate this working style effectively. These platforms allow us to communicate, collaborate, and keep track of our work progress seamlessly, irrespective of where and when we are working. This not only promotes flexibility and autonomy but also fosters a sense of inclusivity and equity in our team, as everyone's unique needs and circumstances are valued and accommodated.

Hire Based on Skills, Not Just Degrees and Experience

Let's be clear and bold about this: A college degree should not be the only passport to opportunity. Far too often, we see capable, talented individuals with real-world experience and demonstrable skills sidelined in favor of those with formal education. This is not just an oversight; it's an injustice.

Consider this: You're perfectly capable, you've honed your skills, you've got relevant experience, but you don't have a college degree. This doesn't mean that you are any less qualified or less deserving of opportunities. The higher education system is a societal construct that, unfortunately, has been used to validate or invalidate individuals' capabilities. This is inherently flawed and unfair.

This is not to downplay the value of education but rather to emphasize that it is not the only measure of a person's worth or potential. Skills and experience are just as valid, if not more so in many cases.

Remember, your value doesn't come from a piece of paper. Your capabilities are demonstrated by your knowledge, your passion, your commitment, and your ability to do the job well. The world is changing, and it's high time our hiring practices kept pace. It's time to challenge the status quo and redefine what it means to be qualified.

Embracing Equity: A Call to Action

In essence, the path to real equity necessitates a commitment that demands everyone's active participation. We invite you to explore how you can be an equitable leader in your workplace through our new Learning Hive's virtual Values-Based Leadership Course. This 8-week course is designed to provide professionals at all levels with the opportunity to cultivate, refine, and practice leadership skills through a values-based lens. It's a space where you can learn, grow, and contribute to building a truly equitable world. The time for change is now – seize this moment, enroll in the course, and become an agent of equity in your community.

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