What Is Equity?
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. The emphasis of most DEI training is always on diversity, with additional lessons on how to be inclusive. But how about equity? What exactly do they mean by equity? What is equity?
It turns out that equity is the component of DEI that makes it controversial. In most DEI trainings equity means outcome, as in, a prescribed outcome that is based not on character, contributions, or value, but by other factors such as ethnicity, skin color, or gender.
The value of having a workforce that is genuinely diverse has been proven to be desirable because it brings different ideas and different viewpoints to an organization. Genuine diversity values people for their contributions and welcomes everyone. The greatest diversity is diversity of thought, and that can only happen when the people involved come from diverse backgrounds and have different life experiences. They may have different appearances or handicaps. People with neurodiversity, or military background, or from a rural area, or from a different country and culture, all have different viewpoints because their life experience is different, so they can all make a unique contribution.
On the other hand, when equity is measured by factors that one does not control, such as race and gender, it is a false label to call it equity. In many cases, DEI prescribes the outcome, with unstated quotas as the equity goals. The way to achieve genuine diversity is to widen the hiring net and encourage outreach programs to look for candidates who have previously been overlooked. The way to overcome unconscious bias is to give everyone an equal opportunity to be hired, promoted, and valued. To achieve true diversity, equity should mean equality of opportunity, with race and gender among the qualities, but not the only qualities, which make a company genuinely diverse.
At Bridge Training Consultants, our workshops show that diversity makes a company more robust, and experience shows that it makes for a more inclusive and harmonious workplace. We encourage companies and organizations of all kinds to expand their outreach efforts and make hiring and promoting equitable by judging a person’s potential contributions and value, without limiting it to race and gender. A company is stronger when equity means equal opportunity for everyone.