Equity in the Workplace: A Complete Review

There have been many talks lately about workplace equity — the idea that everyone should be given an equal opportunity to succeed in their job, regardless of their circumstances.

While there’s still a long way to go, attitudes are slowly changing, and more companies are starting to realize the benefits of having a diverse workforce. But what does equity in the workplace mean exactly, and how can you make sure your company promotes it? Here’s everything you need to know.

What is Equity in the Workplace?

Before we dive into a detailed exploration of the topic, let’s check the definition of equity in the workplace.

Equity at work supports the idea that employees should be treated fairly and receive additional assistance if necessary so they can reach the same outcomes as others. It also ensures employees have equal access to training and development opportunities and receive support if they face discrimination.

The Six Principles of Equity in the Workplace

  • Diversity
  • Inclusion
  • Equal opportunity
  • Fairness
  • Transparency
  • Accountability

These principles work together to create a fair and inclusive workplace for everyone, and they will be discussed in more detail further in the article.

Equality vs Equity in the Workplace

The terms equity and equality are often used interchangeably, but they refer to two different concepts. Equality is the principle of providing everyone with the same opportunities and resources but doesn’t consider whether any individual worker needs additional support to use them.

On the other hand, equity is the principle of tailoring opportunities and resources to meet the unique needs of each individual. Employment equity aims to ensure all workers have an equal chance to succeed, regardless of their circumstances.

To create such a work environment, we must first identify and address the factors that lead to disparities in the opportunity to access certain professions and positions within a company.

Examples of Equality and Equity in the Workplace

One example of equality in the workplace is when an employer offers the same benefits to all employees, such as health insurance or paid time off. Another is when a leader has a policy of promoting workers based solely on merit, without regard to personal characteristics.

On the other hand, an example of equity in the workplace would be when an employer offers flexible hours to individuals with young children. Another example would be providing on-site child care for the employees’ children. These accommodations level the playing field for workers with different family responsibilities.

Examples of Inequitable Treatment in the Workplace

Inequitable treatment in the workplace can take many forms, from overt discrimination to more subtle forms of prejudice. It can result from intentional or unintentional bias or may simply result from a lack of awareness.

For example, an employee might not receive a promotion because of gender. The gender wage gap is a huge problem in the US — 46% of men believe the gender wage gap is a myth, according to the wage gap statistics.

Another example of unfair treatment at work is firing, demoting, or not employing someone because of age. This often happens due to the misconception that older workers’ performance drops as they age or that young people won’t perform well because they lack experience and are too costly to train.

Equity Theory Examples in the Workplace

Equity theory is an essential tool for understanding employee motivation. In the 1960s, John Stacey Adams developed a theory to explain why employees’ beliefs about job equity in the workplace are crucial for organizational performance.

Adams’ Equity Theory posits that people are motivated to work based on their pay and perception of how well they are paid compared to others. This perceived fairness is essential for maintaining high levels of motivation and performance.

For example, employees may react negatively to changes in their compensation or working conditions. They may become disgruntled and disengaged if they perceive that the new arrangement is not equitable. In addition, equity theory provides a valuable framework for creating and sustaining a motivating work environment.

What Are the Benefits of Creating a More Equitable Workplace?

When employees feel they are being treated equitably, they are more likely to be engaged and motivated in their work. In addition, those who receive fair treatment and the same opportunities as their colleagues are more likely to stay with a company for the long haul. Finally, equitable practices in the workplace can help boost productivity and innovation.

How to Create Equity in the Workplace

First, employers need to look closely at their companies’ policies and procedures to identify potential areas of bias.

Second, they need to ensure all workers have the same opportunities for development and advancement. This includes providing training opportunities and ensuring that job descriptions are clear and free of bias.

Finally, they need to create a culture of equity and inclusion in the workplace where all employees feel valued and respected. Employers should foster a culture of inclusivity by promoting diversity and inclusion initiatives.

They should also encourage workers to share their ideas and perspectives openly and create an environment where different viewpoints are respected. Employers who practice fair and equitable treatment of employees attract and retain top talent, enabling their business to thrive.

How to Promote Equity in the Workplace

There are many ways to promote equity in the workplace. Here are some key strategies:

  • Advocate for inclusive policies and practices.
  • Work to eliminate bias in recruitment, hiring, and promotion decisions.
  • Encourage open and honest communication about equity concerns.
  • Provide training on diversity, inclusion, and unconscious bias.
  • Make compensation and benefits fair and transparent.
  • Support employees in navigating difficult conversations about equity issues.
  • Hold individuals and teams accountable for discriminatory behaviors.
  • Evaluate organizational climate regularly and take action to address negative trends relating to equity or inclusion.

Finally, promoting work equity requires leadership from the top. When senior leaders model inclusive behavior and prioritize equity, it sets the tone for the entire organization.

DEI Examples in the Workplace

The three key concepts of diversity, equity, and inclusion are often called DEI. They encompass policies that ensure workplace equality for all employees while also implementing programs to establish a discrimination-free environment.

There has been a renewed focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace recently. According to the diversity in the workplace statistics, up to 80% of people value diverse work environments.

There are several ways employers can do this:

  • offering training on topics related to diversity and inclusion, such as unconscious bias or microaggressions
  • creating employee resource groups, which provide support and networking opportunities for individuals from underrepresented groups
  • reviewing their hiring and promotion practices to ensure they are not inadvertently excluding qualified candidates from underrepresented groups

How Can Employees Ensure They Are Treated Equitably in the Workplace?

Advocating for oneself in the workplace can be difficult. Nevertheless, it is still important to ensure you are receiving fair treatment. If you feel you are being treated inequitably, there are a few steps you can take:

  • Try to talk to your manager or HR department about your concerns. If this doesn’t resolve the issue, you may need to file a formal complaint or grievance.
  • You can reach out to organizations like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) if you believe you have been the victim of discrimination or if you witness a lack of fairness and equity in the workplace.

Remember that you have rights as an employee, and you should not be afraid to use them.

Final Thoughts

Equity in the workplace is about fairness and ensuring everyone has an opportunity to succeed, regardless of their starting point. Therefore, implementing DEI initiatives across all company levels is key to creating a more equitable workplace. 

However, only 16.8% of companies plan to prioritize diversity in leadership roles, according to leadership statistics from 2021. Hopefully, these figures will grow in the upcoming years, as identifying potential areas of inequality and implementing solutions that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion is the road to success for any business.

Equity in the Workplace: A Complete Review — FAQ