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What is the difference between equity and equality?

Racism in organisations is often approached from a diversity and inclusion perspective, but it's also worth considering equality and equity.
© Creative Computing Institute

Racism in organisations is often approached from a diversity and inclusion perspective, but it is also helpful to think about what equality and equity mean in this context, and how aiming to achieve these can help support all employees to flourish.

The differences

Let’s start by looking at the difference between equality and equity. The dictionary defines equality as “the fact of being equal in rights, status, advantages, racial, social or gender”. For example, where defining equality in terms of different groups of people—such as men and women or black people and white people, equality means that both groups enjoy the same benefits and receive the same treatment without fear of discrimination.

Equity is defined as “the state, quality or ideal of being just, impartial and fair”. The concept of equity is synonymous with fairness and justice. It is helpful to think of equity as not simply a desired state of affairs or a lofty value. To achieve and sustain equity, it needs to be thought of as a structural and systemic concept.

How does this apply in the workplace?

According to Human Rights Careers: “Equity levels the playing field, which means addressing discrepancies and ensuring all employees have what they need to succeed. Employees have different needs. If a company treats everyone the same without realising that certain teams or demographics need specific support or resources, there will be inequality. Equity requires organisations to be adaptable and willing to work with their employees to ensure everyone’s success. Equity is the pathway to true equality.” (1)

To achieve equity, individuals have to be equally treated so that fairness and impartiality is available for all.

Had you considered the differences between equality and equity before? How would you summarise them in two sentences?


  1. Human Rights Careers. Examples of Equality and Equity in the Workplace
© Creative Computing Institute
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