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Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: Think progress, not perfection

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: Think progress, not perfection

Jen GilbertQ. What is the difference between equity and equality?
A. Today, the work toward creating more diverse and inclusive workplaces usually includes a discussion of equity, as well. This is why the vernacular shifted from “diversity and inclusion (D&I)” to “diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).” Equity and equality are two different concepts.

Equality suggests the distribution of equal resources to everyone, whereas equity means resources are distributed based on what each individual needs. 

The difference is often illustrated with pictures of different-sized people and ladders. If a short person and a tall person climb up two ladders of the same size, that’s equality—but their height difference doesn’t go away. If we give the short person a taller ladder, they can reach the same height as the taller person. That’s equity.  

When businesses make public commitments to DEI, it may be important to communicate internally about the differences between equality and equity, and why equity matters. Authentically working toward equity is a different story. In an inclusive workplace, equity can take many forms. 

It could mean adding a ramp for an employee who uses a wheelchair. Or, if you know someone speaks English as a second language, you may more easily overlook an error in their written communications. And yes, it can even mean consciously adding more people of color to your job candidate pool, knowing they have historically not enjoyed the same opportunities as their white counterparts. 

Once you’ve begun working toward more equitable practices, use your internal tools like emails, posters or web portals to share updates and progress. Messaging about equity can also be worked into onboarding and recruitment materials. 

Remember, the goal is progress, not perfection. Like every other aspect of this work, transparency is key to keeping your efforts authentic. 

Jen Gilbert is a senior copywriter at Moxie (a division of VGM Group) and a leader of VGM Group’s DEI Committee. You can reach her at [email protected]

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