Equality vs. Equity
What’s the difference?
“Equality is leaving the door open for anyone who has the means to approach it; equity is ensuring there is a pathway to that door for anyone who needs it.” – Caroline Belden
It’s not uncommon to hear the word “equality” in our everyday lives. Whether it’s in our community, our workplaces or on social media it’s a widely used term that’s very well known.
Another term that sounds similar but is often confused with equality is equity. Although they may be used interchangeably they are quite different in terms of justice and society.
So what is the difference?
The Miriam Webster definition for equality is:
“the quality or state of being equal“.
In other words – equality is when everything is the same for everyone. Some examples are equal rights, pay and opportunities.
Equality is excellent and should most definitely play a part in our society however it’s important to remember that not everyone has the ability to be equal.
Sometimes in order for people to achieve equality they need a boost or helping hand. Equality strives for fairness across the board without taking individual needs into account – this is where equity comes in.
It’s easy to get equity and equality confused because they both have a common goal of fairness. They both also strive for everyone to have the ability to succeed. However, unlike equality – equity realizes that every person is different and may not have what they need to be truly equal.
Equality says: “Everyone is at the same level“.
While equity says: “In order to have everyone at the same level, you have to first look and see if they have what they need to get there.”
A Visual Representation
On the equality side of the photo (left) you see each person is standing on one box to help them see the sporting event.
You’ll notice the box is the same size for each person – so the tallest person can see best but the smallest child still can’t see over the fence.
Now if you look at the equity side of the photo (right) – you still see the same three people but this time they can ALL see the sporting event.
The tallest person didn’t need his box to see the game so he gives it to the smallest child so that he can see. The middle child was left with one box because that’s all he needed in order to see the game properly.
You can see by looking at the photo that equality and equity are truly different!
At this point you may be asking yourself – “what does this have to do with me?”. Well, now that you know the difference between the two terms – you can help those who don’t!
It’s also important to reflect on how we treat others – are we using equity or equality?
Remember the picture above and make sure you’re treating others with equity. 😊