Equity vs Equality: Shaping the Future of Workplaces

diversity portrait and students coworking

In the wake of the recent Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action models at Harvard and the University of North Carolina, a critical conversation has been reignited: the difference between equality and equity. This distinction, often misunderstood, is fundamental to shaping the future of not just workplaces but our communities at large.

Understanding Equality and Equity

Equality and equity, while seemingly similar, are fundamentally different. Equality is about giving everyone the same resources or opportunities. It’s a one-size-fits-all approach that doesn’t consider individual needs or circumstances. On the other hand, equity involves distributing resources based on the needs of the recipients. It’s about fairness, ensuring everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed.

In terms of equality in the workplace, an example that can be used is that there is a job posting for a position that is available to internal and external candidates. The equality of this opportunity is that the application is set up for those with disabilities to be able to easily apply, that underrepresented groups within the organization are set up for consideration, support, and success in applying for the posting and that there is fair and equitable pay based on the role and responsibility not just the candidate.

The Fallacy of the Starting Line

The recent court ruling suggests that we are all racing from the same starting line, a notion that is fundamentally flawed due to systemic inequities ingrained in our society. This perspective echoes the outdated and harmful mentality of “separate but equal”, a concept that historically perpetuated racial segregation and inequality.

According to a 2021 article in Health Affairs, “Systemic racism is so embedded in systems that it often is assumed to reflect the natural, inevitable order of things.” (Unknown, 2021) This is why when it’s called out, addressed, and pushed back against the retort is that it does not exist because it has been normalized as just the way that things are.

The Role of Workplaces in Promoting Equity

Workplaces are microcosms of society, and they are not immune to these systemic inequities. The idea that employees of different races, genders, or backgrounds have an equal opportunity to access the same level of resources, promotions, and career opportunities is a fallacy. It overlooks the long-lasting legacy of systemic biases that have shaped our society and workplaces.

There cannot be a separation from governing policies, systemic inequities and the workplace as the workplace is influenced by governing polices and the world at large. People would love to separate politics and systemic inequities from the workplace but unfortunately this cannot be done as it is all interconnected. The people who for, lead, and buy from organizations are heavily influenced and affected by society and those experiences and influences inevitably affect equity or inequity in the workplace.  

Equity in Action: Beyond Tokenism

Promoting equity in the workplace goes beyond tokenism or diversity quotas. It involves acknowledging and addressing the unique challenges faced by marginalized groups. It’s about creating an environment where everyone, regardless of their background, has the tools and opportunities they need to succeed.

While this may seem uncomfortable and possibly polarizing, not being a proponent of equity creates the same result for those that are experiencing systemic inequity. The decision must be made whether comfort and perpetuating what has been versus creating and sustaining equity.

The Path Forward: Building Equitable Workplaces

Building equitable workplaces requires a conscious and continual effort to understand and address systemic inequities. It involves creating policies and practices that ensure fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all employees. It’s about recognizing the value of diversity and inclusion and leveraging it to drive innovation and growth.

In conclusion, the fight for equity in the workplace is far from over. The recent court ruling serves as a stark reminder of this fact. However, it also presents an opportunity for us to reevaluate our understanding of equality and equity, and to strive for a more equitable future. After all, equity, not just equality, is the key to a fair and just society.

When you are ready to foster the change and create the equity workplace that positively impacts employees and organizations Contact Us today.

The Benefits of ERGs: Understanding the ROI

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are becoming increasingly popular in the modern workplace, 98% of the Fortune 500 have an ERG, with more and more companies recognizing their benefits. ERGs are voluntary, employee-led groups that are formed around a common interest, goal, or characteristic. They aim to provide a sense of community and support for employees, particularly those who may feel marginalized or underrepresented. However, beyond the social benefits, there are many other benefits of ERGs, including a positive impact on the company’s ROI.

A group of excited entrepreneurs working on project indoors in office, celebrating successful contract.
A group of excited entrepreneurs working on project indoors in office, celebrating successful contract.

Let’s explore the various benefits of ERGs and how they can help companies achieve a positive return on investment (ROI):

Improved Employee Engagement and Retention

One of the primary benefits of ERGs is improved employee engagement and retention. ERGs provide a platform for employees to connect with others who share similar interests, backgrounds, or experiences. This sense of community and belonging can lead to higher levels of engagement, as employees feel more invested in the company and its mission. Additionally, ERGs can help employees develop valuable skills and experiences, such as leadership and networking, which can lead to greater job satisfaction and a higher likelihood of staying with the company long-term.

Potential ROI:

  • Increased employee engagement and retention, resulting in lower turnover costs
  • Higher levels of employee satisfaction and well-being, leading to improved productivity and quality of work
  • Increased opportunities for employees to develop skills and experiences that can benefit the company in the long run
  • Decrease in talent acquisition costa

Increased Innovation and Creativity

ERGs can also lead to increased innovation and creativity within the company. When employees are encouraged to share their ideas and perspectives, it can lead to a more diverse range of viewpoints and solutions. ERGs can provide a safe space for employees to express their ideas and opinions, without fear of judgment or discrimination. This can lead to more creative and innovative solutions, which can ultimately benefit the company’s bottom line.

A study conducted by Boston Consulting Group found that companies with more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenue due to innovation.

Potential ROI:

  • More diverse range of perspectives and ideas, leading to improved problem-solving and innovation
  • Improved overall quality of work, leading to higher customer satisfaction and increased revenue
  • Potential for new product or service development that can benefit the company in the long run

Enhanced Recruitment Efforts

ERGs can also be a valuable tool in recruiting new talent. Many job seekers today prioritize diversity and inclusion when considering potential employers. By showcasing their ERGs and the company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, companies can attract a wider range of candidates and improve their chances of hiring top talent.

Additionally, ERGs can help companies improve their retention of diverse talent. When employees feel valued and supported, they are more likely to stay with the company long-term, reducing turnover and the costs associated with hiring and training new employees.

Potential ROI:

  • Improved ability to attract top talent, leading to improved overall quality of work and increased revenue
  • Increased diversity in the workplace, leading to improved creativity and innovation
  • Lower turnover costs associated with retaining diverse talent

Improved Brand Reputation

Finally, ERGs can help improve a company’s brand reputation. In today’s social media-driven world, it’s more important than ever for companies to demonstrate their commitment to diversity and inclusion. By showcasing their ERGs and the positive impact they are having on the company and its employees, companies can improve their reputation with customers, partners, and potential employees.

Potential ROI:

  • Improved brand reputation and customer loyalty, leading to increased revenue
  • Improved ability to attract top talent, leading to improved overall quality of work and increased revenue
  • Potential for positive media coverage or awards that can benefit the company in the long run

While it may be difficult to quantify some of the benefits (such as improved brand reputation), it’s clear that ERGs can provide a significant return on investment for companies. By increasing employee engagement and retention, enhancing diversity and inclusion, improving employee satisfaction and well-being, and enhancing recruitment and brand reputation, ERGs can help companies be more productive, innovative, and profitable. Companies that invest in ERGs demonstrate their commitment to diversity and inclusion, and create a workplace culture where all employees feel valued, supported, and connected.

If you are unsure if you can get the ROI on a potential ERG Program check out my post How To Know If Your Organization is Ready for ERGs.

If you’re unsure how to show the ROI on your existing ERG Program click this link to schedule a Discovery Call.