What is equity?
And how is it different from equality?
If we’re unclear on the meaning, it’s difficult to embrace.
Equality means treating everyone the same. But, because we are not all the same, equality isn’t really equal for everyone.
Equity recognises context – we don’t all start from the same place. And it sees difference – we don’t all have the same needs.
Equity moves the conversation beyond making a level playing field between women and men. It forces us to address a wider set of (dis)advantages encountered by women and how they interact with those related to sex or gender.
Can you tell the difference between equity and equality?
Take our quick quiz to find out.
A company bus collects every employee from the bus station and takes them to work free of charge.
Everyone takes the same journey but we don’t know how far away from the bus station they live. If the bus collected everyone from their house – regardless of where they live – that would be equity.
To promote healthy eating, every employee receives a fixed daily allowance to buy their lunch regardless of whether they are in the office or working from home.
Everyone has the same allowance but we don’t know how much lunch costs in different places. Equity would be giving everyone enough to buy their lunch wherever they live.
Legislation requires that every employee receives the same reward for doing equivalent work and pay reviews must look at each individual’s reward in relation to their peers.
This is about equal pay for equal work at equivalent grades within the organisation.
It could go further to look at the representation of different types of people at higher versus lower grades. This would also be about equality.
A more equity-oriented approach might look to address the reasons for pay inequality in the first place such as historical discrimination or, for example, the need for many women to disrupt their careers in order to have children.
Recognising that pupils do not all learn in the same way, schools provide learning materials online and free of charge in a range of written, audio and visual formats.
By trying to meet the individual needs of each student, the school is taking an equitable approach to their education. Because the materials are online, the school may need to go further to ensure that each child has access to a computer and internet connection.
When cutting back on funding for leisure centres and libraries, local government decided to reduce the opening hours of all services by the same amount.
The cuts are applied equally to each venue but without regard for how frequently they are used. A more equitable approach would attempt to measure how vital they are to the local community and cut the hours in the locations that are less used instead of cutting them all equally.
Please complete all questions to view results
Embracing equity isn’t just for one day
So we plan to return to these questions throughout the year and think about what equity might mean for women and the (dis)advantages they encounter in relation to other aspects of their lives and identities.