Equity Vs Equality

Equity vs Equality: Addressing Systemic Inequalities in the Workplace

The terms equity and equality are frequently mentioned in conversations surrounding workplace diversity and inclusion. While they may seem interchangeable, each word holds a distinct meaning that carries significant weight in addressing systemic inequalities. Equity involves fairly distributing resources and opportunities while considering the unique needs of individuals and groups. Equality, on the other hand, emphasizes treating everyone equally, regardless of differences. Understanding the differences between equity and equality is critical for promoting fairness and inclusivity in the workplace.
 
Unfortunately, systemic inequalities are still present in many organizations, but there are strategies that can help address them. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at these inequalities and explore ways to tackle them through policies and practices that promote equity. By prioritizing equity and taking actionable steps to promote inclusion, organizations can create a more just and fulfilling workplace for all employees.

Understanding the Difference Between Equity and Equality

Equity and equality are often used interchangeably, but they have distinct meanings that are important to understand. Equality means treating everyone the same, regardless of their differences. It assumes that everyone has the same starting point and the same needs. Equity, on the other hand, recognizes that different people have different starting points and different needs. It means providing resources and opportunities in a way that is fair, taking into account the unique circumstances and needs of individuals or groups.

"Equity and equality can be confusing, but let's break it down with a snack analogy. Imagine you're at the grocery store with your two kids, one with a nut allergy and one who loves fruity almond snacks. Instead of getting the same snack for both, you choose an almond snack for one and a nut-free snack for the other. This way, both kids get to enjoy a fruity snack without any harm. You're being equal by giving them a snack, but also being equitable by considering their individual needs. It's about fairness and inclusivity and making sure everyone gets what they need to thrive."

To further illustrate the difference between equity and equality, let’s consider a common scenario in the workplace. Suppose a company provides laptops to all its employees. If the company prioritizes equality, every employee would receive the same laptop, regardless of their job duties or individual needs. However, if the company values equity, they would provide laptops tailored to each employee’s job responsibilities and personal circumstances. For instance, an employee who frequently travels might require a lightweight laptop with long battery life, while a graphic designer might need a laptop with a powerful graphics card. This approach ensures that each employee has the necessary tools to perform their job effectively and efficiently.
 
Organizations can create more effective policies and practices to address systemic inequalities in the workplace by comprehending the difference between equity and equality.

Systemic Inequalities in the Workplace​

Despite progress in recent years, many workplaces still suffer from systemic inequalities that prevent certain groups of employees from reaching their full potential. Some of the most common systemic inequalities in the workplace include:
 
  • Pay inequity: Women, people of color, and other marginalized groups are often paid less than their white or male counterparts, even when they have the same job title and qualifications.

  • Lack of diversity in leadership: Many workplaces still have predominantly white, male leadership teams, which can make it difficult for employees from diverse backgrounds to advance.

  • Microaggressions and unconscious bias: Microaggressions, such as making assumptions based on someone’s race or gender, can create a toxic and unwelcoming workplace environment.

  • Inflexible work arrangements: Employees with caregiving responsibilities, disabilities, or other needs may struggle to balance their work and personal lives if their workplace does not offer flexible work arrangements.
These systemic inequalities can have a significant impact on employees’ job satisfaction, career advancement, and overall well-being. It is important for organizations to take intentional steps to address these issues and create a workplace that is equitable and inclusive for all employees.

The Importance of Addressing Systemic Inequalities

It’s not just about doing the right thing; addressing systemic inequalities in the workplace has proven to be a smart business decision. Studies indicate that diverse and inclusive workplaces foster innovation, creativity, and overall success more than homogeneous ones. By prioritizing diversity and equity, organizations can attract and retain the best talent, enhance their decision-making abilities, and create a sense of belonging among employees. Moreover, prioritizing equity can help organizations avoid legal and reputational risks. Discrimination and harassment lawsuits can be costly and damage a company’s reputation, while a workplace culture that appears to be unwelcoming to diverse employees can make it difficult to attract and retain top talent.

Walmart Lawsuit against Racial Discrimination

Walmart hit with class action lawsuit for racial discrimination

For example: Let’s take a look at a real-world example that highlights the importance of understanding equity vs equality. In the early 2000s, approximately 4,500 Black truck drivers applied to work for Walmart, but the corporation allegedly turned them away in disproportionate numbers. As a result, the drivers filed a class-action suit for racial discrimination, and Walmart settled for $17.5 million.

This wasn’t the first time Walmart faced allegations of discrimination. In fact, the company has been subject to several dozen discrimination lawsuits since the 1990s. For instance, a group of West African immigrant employees sued Walmart in 2010, alleging that their supervisors fired them to give their jobs to locals. Unfortunately, these incidents are not unique to Walmart.

Workers at a Walmart in Avon, Colorado, reported that a new manager made discriminatory comments, stating, “I don’t like some of the faces I see here. There are people in Eagle County who need jobs.” These examples illustrate the ongoing need for organizations to prioritize equity and take actionable steps to promote a more inclusive workplace culture.

Creating a more equitable workplace requires commitment from all levels of the organization. In the following sections, we will discuss some strategies for creating an equity-based workplace culture, building an anti-racist workplace, implementing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs, and measuring progress and accountability.

Creating an Equity-Based Workplace Culture

Developing an equitable workplace culture involves assessing and altering policies, practices, and behaviors that contribute to systemic inequalities. This process may include:
 
  • Evaluating hiring practices: Are job descriptions and interview questions inclusive and free from bias? Are diverse candidates being actively recruited and given equal consideration during the hiring process?

  • Providing equitable benefits and resources: Are benefits and resources (such as parental leave, flexible work arrangements, and professional development opportunities) being distributed in a way that is fair and takes into account the unique needs of employees?

  • Encouraging open communication: Are employees encouraged to share their experiences and feedback, and are their concerns taken seriously? Is leadership transparent and accountable about how they are addressing systemic inequalities in the workplace?

  • Providing training and education: Are employees and leadership being provided with training and education on topics such as unconscious bias, microaggressions, and cultural competency?
 
A company’s employer brand depends largely on its workplace culture, which can either make or break its ability to attract and retain top talent, as well as clients and partners. In order to build a culture based on equity, all levels of the organization must be fully committed to the process. This involves a willingness to evaluate current practices and recognizes those that contribute to systemic inequalities. By being open to change and actively working to create a more equitable and inclusive environment, organizations can foster a positive workplace culture that benefits everyone involved.
Racism

Building an Anti-Racist Workplace

Building an anti-racist workplace involves actively working to dismantle the systems and structures that perpetuate racism and other forms of oppression. This can include:
 
  • Examining the ways in which racism and other forms of oppression may be embedded in the organization’s policies and practices.

  • Providing education and training on topics such as anti-racism, cultural competency, and allyship.

  • Creating a workplace culture that values diversity, equity, and inclusion and actively works to dismantle systems of oppression.

  • Encouraging open communication and feedback and actively working to address concerns and complaints related to racism and other forms of oppression.

  • Providing resources and support for employees who have experienced racism or other forms of oppression in the workplace.
 Establishing an anti-racist workplace is a continuous process that demands a genuine dedication to education, introspection, and decisive action from all levels of the organization.

Implementing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Programs

Incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) program is a crucial step toward creating a more equitable and inclusive workplace for all employees. These initiatives can help organizations foster a sense of belonging, promote fairness, and eliminate biases, making it easier for individuals to thrive and grow in their careers.
 
DEI programs can include: 
  • Training and education on topics such as unconscious bias, microaggressions, and cultural competency.
  • Employee resource groups (ERGs) that provide support and networking opportunities for employees from diverse backgrounds.
  • Diversity recruiting initiatives that actively seek out and recruit candidates from diverse backgrounds.
  • Equity-based policies and practices, such as flexible work arrangements and pay equity audits.
  • Metrics and data analysis to track progress and identify areas for improvement.
To promote equity and inclusion, DEI programs must be customized to the specific needs and situations of the organization. Additionally, it’s important to regularly assess and update these programs to ensure they’re achieving their intended goals. In doing so, organizations can effectively create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace culture.

At XA Talent, we've been fully remote since January 2020 and have provided flexible working hours for our core support staff. For those working under contract at their respective employers, we adhere to their workplace policies. We're considering a hybrid work model for our DC and Virginia staff to accommodate marketing, branding, and events for our clients. We're committed to making remote work a success for all our employees, as we share infrastructure with our parent company, XA Systems. By offering remote work options, we can attract top talent from all over while still maintaining a high level of productivity and service.

The Role of Leadership in Creating an Equitable Workplace

Leadership plays a critical role in creating an equitable workplace.

Leaders should: 

  • Hold themselves and others accountable for creating an equitable workplace culture.
  • Provide resources and support for employees from diverse backgrounds.
  • Set the tone for the organization by modeling inclusive behavior and actively working to dismantle systems of oppression.
  • Actively seek out and listen to feedback from employees and use that feedback to make improvements.
  • Regularly evaluate and update policies and practices to ensure they are promoting equity and inclusion.
Jane Fraser, Citi
Julie Sweet, Accenture

In December 2022, Citigroup, under the leadership of Jane Fraser, made a groundbreaking move by promoting over 100 women to the position of managing director. This is the highest number of women the bank has ever promoted to this role, and it highlights the progress that is being made toward gender equality in the financial industry.

Similarly, earlier in 2022, Accenture, now led by Julie Sweet, ranked first on Refinitiv’s Global Diversity and Inclusion Index.
This ranking was based on a survey of 11,000 companies from around the world, and it demonstrates Accenture’s commitment to creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace.

These actions by Citigroup and Accenture represent important steps forward in the fight for workplace equality. They serve as powerful examples of what can be achieved when companies prioritize diversity and inclusion and take proactive steps to promote it.

Measuring Progress and Accountability

Monitoring progress and accountability are important components in creating a just and equal workplace. It is essential to regularly assess if the organization is making strides towards equity and equality, especially as the needs of the people evolve during the hiring process.
 
Below are some ways to achieve this:
  • Establishing quantifiable objectives and benchmarks pertaining to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Collecting and analyzing data regularly related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Being transparent and accountable about the organization’s efforts to address systemic inequalities.
  • Encouraging open communication and feedback from employees and leveraging the feedback to drive improvements.
  • Celebrating achievements and advancements and embracing failures as opportunities for growth and learning.
 Tracking progress and accountability enables organizations to pinpoint areas of growth and guarantee that they are progressively moving towards creating a more fair and inclusive workplace.

Addressing Resistance and Pushback

In the pursuit of creating an equitable workplace, addressing resistance and pushback is a crucial step. Such resistance can often arise from employees who are not accustomed to thinking about diversity, equity, and inclusion or from those who feel threatened by changes to the current state of affairs. It’s important to understand that resistance and pushback are normal human reactions to change, and they should be acknowledged and addressed in a constructive manner.
 
To effectively address resistance and pushback to diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives within organizations, there are several strategies that can be implemented. These include:
 
  • Providing education and training to employees on the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. This can help employees understand the value of DEI and the positive impact it can have on the organization as a whole.

  • Creating a culture of open communication and feedback. This means actively listening to concerns and complaints from employees, and providing opportunities for open dialogue and discussion.

  • Addressing resistance and pushback directly and transparently. This involves being clear and concise about the goals and objectives of DEI initiatives, as well as providing resources and support for employees who may be struggling with the changes.

  • Celebrating successes and progress. When positive changes occur as a result of DEI initiatives, it is important to recognize and celebrate them. This helps to build momentum and create a culture of positivity and inclusivity.

  • Using setbacks as opportunities for learning and growth. When challenges arise during the implementation of DEI initiatives, it is important to view them as opportunities for learning and growth. By analyzing what went wrong and making adjustments, organizations can continue to move forward in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace.
Framework to categorize pushback - Gartner
Gartner, a leading research and advisory company, has developed a framework to help HR leaders identify pushback in their organizations.
 
The three forms of pushback are denial, disengagement, and derailment.
  • Denial is when someone says, “This is not a problem.”
  • Disengagement is when someone says, “This is not my problem.”
  • Derailment is when someone says, “What about other problems?”
The framework is designed to address pushback that undermines or obstructs ongoing initiatives aimed at advancing equity and inclusion for marginalized groups in the workplace. HR leaders must first establish a common language to understand and recognize pushback before they can begin to tackle it effectively. By identifying and addressing pushback, companies can create a more inclusive workplace where all employees feel valued and supported.

Final Thoughts: Striving for an Equitable Future in the Workplace

Addressing systemic inequalities in the workplace is a multifaceted and ongoing process that requires the participation of all levels of an organization. By understanding the nuances between equity and equality and taking meaningful action to address systemic issues, companies can create an environment that is fair, just, and inclusive for all employees.
 
Creating an equitable workplace necessitates dedication to continual learning, self-reflection, and proactive steps toward change. It requires a willingness to scrutinize and revise policies and practices that may perpetuate systemic inequalities and a commitment to fostering a workplace culture that prioritizes diversity and equity.
 
Through intentional efforts towards an equitable workplace, organizations can attract and retain top talent, improve decision-making processes, and foster a sense of belonging among all employees. Above all, they can create a workplace that champions fairness and inclusivity for every employee, leading to a more productive and thriving organization.

Abigail Sel

I’m Abigail, a marketing expert who has transitioned from luxury brand marketing to corporate and executive branding. As a Chief Marketing Officer with a passion for storytelling and launching innovative digital strategies, I’ve spent the last decade helping companies build brand love and drive business growth.

https://myxatalent.com

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Aiyaz, VP of Recruitment and Staffing

Aiyaz Uddin

VP, Recruitment and Staffing

With over 15 years of experience in the industry, Aiyaz brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to our team by strategically positioning clients to attract, engage, and pipeline the most sought-after talent in information technology utilizing open-source intelligence, talent solutions, and machine learning tools for federal and local government contracting firms, and commercial employers. Aiyaz has a proven track record of success in matching the right talent with the right opportunities, leading to long-term and mutually beneficial relationships.

 

As a leader in the industry, he is constantly seeking out new and innovative ways to improve our services and deliver the best results for our clients and job seekers.


Aiyaz is a certified tech recruitment professional with an MBA in Finance & Marketing along with M.Sc. Psychology. Additionally, his drive to seek new and innovative approaches to talent acquisition led him to speak on LinkedIn Talent Solutions by LinkedIn and HackerEarth’s Tech Recruiting Conference Hire 101.


Under Aiyaz 's leadership, XA Talent has become a trusted partner for companies looking to grow their teams and job seekers looking for their next great opportunity. Aiyaz and our team are committed to delivering an exceptional experience for everyone we work with.

 

Get in touch with XA Talent today, and let us help you find your next great opportunity.

Peyton Brooks, VP of Workforce Development

Peyton Brooks

VP, Workforce Development

As a firm believer in continuous development and self-improvement, I attained a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Howard University and a Juris Doctor Degree from The George Washington University Law School.

 

My passion for service to the community drove me towards the workforce development industry, where I have been in active pursuit to change the trajectory of lives and shape communities ever since. With nearly a decade of experience doing so, I have helped thousands of individuals obtain access to more short-term, affordable, and convenient upskill and reskill opportunities across the nation.

 

Given my vast industry expertise, I provide management consulting services to workforce
development organizations helping them with customized solutions, specialized curricula, strategic partnerships, and employer engagement. My consulting leverages deep technical knowledge as well as strategic and tactical approaches to provide the best solutions with data-driven outcomes. 

 

My proven experience in building workforce development systems have led me to develop and evangelize best practices for workforce development programs that include the following outcome-based attributes:

– Livable wages and sustainable careers in high-demand industry sectors
– Job placement-focused programs with strong employer partnerships
– Data-driven understanding of regional skills gaps; and
– Comprehensive skills training that includes practical application work experience with career coaching.

 

My ability to thrive in the workforce development industry is attributed to my strong interpersonal skills, which have enhanced my capabilities to understand what people truly mean to communicate when attempting to express their business challenges. This trait has set me apart from the rest, as I can identify and resolve the root cause of challenges resulting in proper alignment of investment to desired business outcomes.

 

Therefore, as a leader of cooperative outcome-focused efforts, I would like to connect with
professionals who are interested in collaborating to improve communities and change the trajectory of lives through sustainable career attainment.

Abigail Jpones

Abigail Jones

Chief Marketing Officer

As a CMO passionate about innovative, results-driven marketing strategies, I help companies accelerate tech talent acquisition, enhance executive visibility, and build impactful brands. My entrepreneurial experience, including building startups in London, fuels my work as as a Chief Marketing Officer at XA Talent.

At 𝗫𝗔 𝗧𝗮𝗹𝗲𝗻𝘁, my role transcends traditional marketing, designing marketing strategies with talent in mind to strengthen talent pipelines and enhance company reputations. A successful organization begins with its people, and our approach ensures we attract individuals who can best contribute to and thrive within your organizational culture. These strategies are continuously refined in response to technological disruption, ensuring that securing brilliant minds enables your company to grow consistently and achieve its broader goals, furthering your mission to make a meaningful societal impact.

We specialize in tech talent acquisition and executive search while working closely with CEOs and senior leaders to manage their executive branding, which significantly impacts and enhances their employer brand. This collaboration enables them to hire on demand, build influential alliances, and foster advocacy for sustained business growth.

Additionally, I provide 𝗳𝗿𝗮𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝗮𝗹 𝗖𝗠𝗢 𝘀𝗲𝗿𝘃𝗶𝗰𝗲𝘀, helping companies develop strategic marketing plans, drive thought leadership to enhance brand visibility. As a speaker, I share insights on entrepreneurship and marketing, aiming to inspire and empower the next generation of leaders. My mission is to merge innovative marketing strategies with recruitment solutions to foster talent development and organizational growth.

When I’m not strategizing, you can find me attending marketing events and exploring new technologies and trends to bring fresh perspectives to the table.

Personally, I have lived in five countries – Malaysia, Australia, Dubai, the UK, and the US.

✈️an avid traveler
📑completed my MBA in London
👩🏽‍🍳love to experiment with new recipes at home
🤸🏽‍♀️absolutely love Pilates to strengthen my mind and body!

If you are interested in learning how to use your voice to build a strong workforce, connect with me and stay updated with my latest insights.

Evan Jones, Founder and CEO

Evan Jones

Founder and CEO

After 20 years of delivering IT management consulting and infrastructure operations & management services to the federal government (XA Systems, LLC https://xasystems.com/) and hiring thousands of employees over the years, Evan and his team have developed a system that scales a company's personnel recruitment with culture-driven candidates who contribute to the success of the business.

 

As a technology-based business focused on continual process improvement, the methods he and his team have developed have been improved over the years and are centered on employer branding and recruitment marketing that results in a pipeline of engaged candidates ready to be hired on demand. He believes every business can succeed and create an impact if they are willing to take uncomfortable action with the right tools and knowledge. He’s determined to stand in the gap and provide the tools and knowledge businesses need.

 

To date, he has played a role in the growth and development of more than 30 companies. He has worked behind the scenes of SMBs and massive 8 to 10-figure companies helping them overhaul their processes, reinvent their recruitment marketing strategies, and drive growth, both in net profit and an overall employer reach into job seeker communities.

 

With a passion for business transformation, Evan has developed his own technology, an enterprise SaaS solution, ServeOptics, that delivers service support performance metrics to IT leaders who need actionable insights to make informed business decisions. The more visibility of operations that exists with real-time performance metrics and automated reporting, the more efficient and effective companies can be in their service support operations, which enables a business to gain a significant competitive advantage in their industry.

 

Evan is interested in connecting with forward-thinking business professionals who want to collaborate on business opportunities or discuss how his recruitment system can enable a business to attract top-tier candidates, employ on-demand, and retain its best employees.