Equality And Equity in Workplace Training

  • Ezra
  • February 2nd, 2021

When aiming for a diverse workplace, it’s important to emphasize the differences between equality and equity to create a truly fair and inclusive environment for your employees.

Equality & Equity

Equality and equity are two sides of the same coin, but they’re often misunderstood or the terms are used interchangeably by accident. In reality, there are major differences between the two although they typically seek to achieve the same goal of creating a fair and diverse workplace. However, they can also be seen as contradictory to each other, hence the importance of understanding how the two interact and how they can be used together.

What is the difference between equality and equity?

Before you train your staff on equality and equity in the workplace, it’s important to understand their meanings.

Equality

Equality means giving everyone in your workplace an equal opportunity to succeed and make the most of their time with your company.

To ensure equality in your workplace, you need to give everyone the same chances to be promoted, you need to offer the same level of support to everyone, and you need to keep your treatment of staff consistent from one person to the next regardless of their position, status, or background.

Equity

Equity is about giving people “a bit extra” to ensure that things are completely fair within the workplace. This could mean, for example, giving more support to someone that may have problems in the workplace, and understanding everyone’s personal circumstances so that you can uplift those that are less fortunate or disadvantaged in one way or another.

For example, it might mean giving extra time for someone to complete a task due to personal circumstances, or setting a lower quota for someone that has issues at home which are affecting their productivity.

Comparing equality and equity

At first glance, it can seem like equality and equity contradict each other. Equality aims to put everyone on an even playing field so that your employees all have the same opportunities, but equity unbalances it by giving additional support to the people that need it.

(graphic below “Equity vs Equality” by MN Pollution Control Agency is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0)

Illustrating Equality vs Equity

The reality is that the two are intertwined and must be used together in order to create true fairness and diversity in the workplace. Equality must be used to uplift everyone to a base standard that is upheld by your company. Afterward, equity can be used to give additional support to the people that need it, requiring good judgement and execution from leadership teams.

However, it’s important to be cautious when training staff on equity in the workplace. If someone receives too much or too little support, it could be seen as unfair and ultimately create inequality in your team. The right balance is important when it comes to achieving true equality and fairness in the workplace.

Training your staff

There are typically two approaches when it comes to training your staff on equality and equity.

The first option is to follow equality compliance and training programs to teach all staff members how to create a workplace environment that provides equal opportunities. The U.S. Department of Labor has guidelines on equal employment opportunity and there are some states that have made sexual harassment prevention training mandatory.

This is generally the preferred method for all staff members. It’s a convenient solution that will teach your entire team the basics of equality and equity. However, you may need to provide senior members of staff with additional training on concepts such as how to implement those policies and perform internal investigations when equality issues arise.

It’s vital that you understand there’s no quick fix for equality and equity in the workplace. If your team is currently struggling with equality issues, then you need to evaluate your workforce and consider the training opportunities available to you. You have to understand that all of your staff come from different backgrounds and have unique experiences that will affect the success of any equality and equity training that you introduce. As such, tailor-made equality and equity training programs should be considered to ensure it meets the needs of your company and staff.

Inclusivity through technology

In order to deliver equality and equity training, it’s important to consider using technology as this is also a form of practiced inclusivity.

With a large team that is spread out across the nation, it’s important to look for a delivery method that enables all employees to participate in the training. Since some employees may be too far away from your office to participate, they are at a disadvantage and cannot be expected to travel a long distance to attend the training.

As such, we need to use equitable ideas to provide them with the same opportunities as employees who are able to physically attend training. A great solution for this is to provide online eLearning options that are accessible on a range of different devices. This ensures that all of your employees are included and gives them an equal opportunity to learn about equality and equity in the workplace.

Encouraging equal opportunities

To hold that training together, it’s important to establish an equitable culture in the workplace as well. This can include removing any posters or signs that contradict an equitable culture, such as gender-focused slogans, or performing workplace renovations that make it more comfortable for employees with a physical disability.

Lean into coaching behavioural change to ensure that this is pioneered by senior management staff, and also adopted by all staff members as part of their general behaviour at work. Leaders must also actively participate in these initiatives to inspire and encourage other staff to follow their example.

As more industries work towards creating equal opportunities for people of all backgrounds and circumstances, it’s important to focus on training and building an inclusive workplace culture to promote those values and ensure that all of your staff are on the same wavelength. While effective workplace training can educate your staff on equality and equity principles, the principles of sound leadership coaching can be the catalyst for lasting change – the kind that means your workplace culture will ultimately instil those values naturally into each member of your team.

Related Articles