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Equity vs Equality in the Workplace

This IWD, the key focus was on Equity. Equity and equality are often used interchangeably, but they have different meanings regarding workplace diversity and inclusion. 

So, what’s the difference? 

Equality refers to treating everyone the same regardless of their differences and backgrounds. For example, everyone in the office has the same start and finish time irrespective of their personal life. This approach assumes that all employees have the exact needs both in and out of the workplace.

On the other hand, equity refers to ensuring that everyone is supported based on individual needs. It recognises that some employees may face more barriers than others, and aims to create fairness by providing support and accommodations to those who need it. For example, employees have different start and finish times based on their personal life (eg; parents needing to pick up their kids early from childcare).

Simply put, equality focuses on treating people the same, while equity focuses on ensuring people have the resources and support they need to be successful!

What can workplaces do to promote equity in the workplace?  

Flexible Working Conditions

Implementing simple changes can often make a BIG difference.  Allow employees to work outside the traditional 9-5 office schedule (eg; start late and finish early) or WFH will attract and retain better (loyal & happier!) staff for your business.

Better working arrangements include:

  • Working from home
  • Allowing employees to set their own schedules 
  • Job sharing
  • Part-time hours

Providing flexible working conditions takes into consideration that every employee has individual needs outside of work and accommodates those needs. 

Upskill Employees

Training or teaching employees will provide more opportunities for each staff member to grow and develop and further their career. Upskilling opportunities include online courses, in-person workshops, on-the-job training, mentoring, and coaching. Speak to your employees about skill sets they wish to improve on and encourage them to find opportunities to do so. 

Promote Wellbeing

Let’s face it, no matter how hard we try, our personal lives can greatly impact how we show up to work. It’s important to acknowledge the struggles employees are facing out of work and provide help where you can. 

Keep staff up to date on the latest workplace laws and regulations. Ensure that staff know their rights and what government support they’re eligible to receive. 

Provide resources for your employees such as the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) which offers free and confidential counselling to employees.

Support Disabilities and Mental Health Conditions

Supporting employees with disabilities and mental health conditions such as ADHD is crucial to creating a supportive work environment. It can be a sensitive topic, and employees may feel uncomfortable opening up about their specific needs. 

Start by creating an inclusive workplace where employees feel valued and comfortable. Hopefully, that will lead to employees becoming more forthright about their specific needs in order to flourish.

Review Salaries

Review employee salaries and take note of any discrepancies between experience, gender, race, sexuality, ethnicity, and/or disabilities. Keep an open dialogue with employees and address the discrepancies by ensuring salaries match those who have similar job functions.


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