Equality Vs Equity: What's the difference?

Equality may not always result in fairness due to inherent disadvantages or systemic barriers faced by certain individuals or groups. So, even though equality is super important, it’s not always fair.

Company Culture
Future of Work
Wellbeing at Work

⋅ min read

Many find it difficult to tell the difference between equality and equity. Simply put: 

Equity: providing resources, opportunities, and support based on individual needs and circumstances, aiming to level the playing field. 

Equality: treating everyone the same, irrespective of their unique circumstances, backgrounds, or challenges.

Therefore, equality may not always result in fairness due to inherent disadvantages or systemic barriers faced by certain individuals or groups. So, even though equality is super important, it’s not always fair. Certain groups of people may not be able to achieve the same outcome as everyone else, because of their disparities. On the other hand, equity recognises the disparities of certain groups, and offers a helping hand to reach the same outcome as their peers. 

A great analogy for this is:

Equality is giving everyone a shoe. Equity is giving everyone a shoe that fits.

Let's find out more about the difference and why equity is so important.

Why is workplace equity important? 

According to a CNBC survey, 80 percent of respondents said they want to work for a company that values diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts. Also, in a survey by Beamery, 3 out of 4 companies rated every aspect of DEI listed as a priority within their organisation.

Here are 3 key benefits of creating real workplace diversity, equity and inclusivity.

  1. Provides motivation for employees to achieve and perform 
  2. Increases employee retention and engagement 
  3. Attracts top talent with enhanced diversity and inclusion 

While DEI programs can bring many benefits implementing them is not always a walk in the park. Here are some challenges you may face, and how you can overcome them. 

  1. Lack of leadership support. Start by educating leaders on the importance of a DEI program and its benefits. They should also lead by example. 
  2. Employees who are resistant to change. Communicate the benefits to employees with a DEI program. Try to include them when planning and implementing. 
  3. Employees who view DEI as discrimination. Conduct learning sessions with open dialogues and diversity assessments to clear up any concerns. 
  4. Teams lack resources to start a DEI program. Start with doing up a simple DEI policy. We have the only guide you need to get your DEI policy started. 

How is equity relevant in your workplace?  

Still unsure about the differences between equity and equality? No worries, here’s an example that can help you understand better. 

Imagine you’re a teacher in a classroom. You realise that there’s one visually impaired student in your class. 


On the first day of class, you hand out the exact same textbook to every student, including the visually-impaired student, despite knowing that they are unable to see the text. 

You do this because you want every student to have access to the same, equal resources. However, you're not actually giving the visually-impaired student an equal chance, despite wanting to treat every student ‘equally’. 


On the first day of class, you recognise that there’s a visually-impaired student. You make it known to other students that there’s a student that requires extra assistance because of his disparity, in an open and honest manner. 

Instead of a textbook, you provide an audiobook for the visually-impaired student. By doing so, you are giving all students in your class an equal chance to learn and achieve good grades, despite their differences. 

Fostering equity in your workplace is key 

Putting the above example into the context of your workplace, there may be employees who have disabilities or fall under underrepresented groups. Promoting workplace equity would mean providing workplace accommodations and targeted mentoring programs. 

Creating a well-defined DEI policy is easy with our guide and free policy template. Set targets and stay accountable, make an effort to hire from underrepresented backgrounds, go beyond hiring and champion diversity internally. 

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