Equality and Equity in Workplace Training
When aiming for a diverse workplace, it’s important to emphasise the differences between equality and equity to create a truly fair and inclusive environment for your employees.
Equality and equity are two sides of the same coin, but the terms are used interchangeably by accident or just plain misunderstood. In reality, there are major differences between the two although they typically seek to achieve the same goal of creating a fair and diverse workplace.
The difference between equality and equity is more than 2 letters.
Before you train your staff on equality and equity in the workplace, it’s important to understand what the terms really mean.
Equality means giving everyone in your workplace an equal opportunity to succeed and make the most of their time with your company.
To ensure equality in your workplace, you need to give everyone the same chances to be promoted, offer everyone the same level of support, and keep your treatment of staff consistent from one person to the next regardless of their position, status or background.
Equity is about giving people “a bit extra” to ensure that things are completely fair within the workplace. This could mean giving more support to someone that may have problems in the workplace, and understanding everyone’s personal circumstances so that you can uplift those who are less fortunate or disadvantaged in some way.
For example, it might mean giving extra time for someone to complete a task due to personal circumstances or setting a lower quota for someone that has issues at home which are affecting their productivity.
Comparing the two terms
At first glance, it can seem like equality and equity contradict each other. Equality aims to put everyone on an even playing field so that your employees all have the same opportunities, but equity unbalances it by giving additional support to the people that need it.
The reality is that the two are intertwined and must be used together to ensure true fairness and diversity in the workplace. Equality must be used to uplift everyone to a base standard that is upheld by your company. Afterward, equity can be used to give additional support to the people that need it, requiring good judgement and execution from leadership teams.
The right balance is important when it comes to achieving true equality and fairness in the workplace. It’s important to be cautious when training staff on equity in the workplace. If someone receives too much or too little support, it could be seen as unfair and ultimately create inequality in your team.
Training your staff
There are typically two approaches when it comes to training your staff on equality and equity.
The first option is to follow equality compliance and training programmes to teach all staff members how to create a workplace environment that provides equal opportunities. The U.S. Department of Labor has guidelines on equal employment opportunity and there are some states that have made sexual harassment prevention training mandatory.
This is generally the preferred method for all staff members. It’s convenient and will teach your entire team the basics of equality and equity. However, you may need to provide senior members of staff additional training on concepts such as how to implement those policies and perform internal investigations when equality issues arise.
But remember there’s no quick fix for equality and equity in the workplace. If your team is currently struggling with equality issues, then you need to evaluate your workforce and consider the training opportunities available to you. You must understand that all of your staff come from different backgrounds and have unique experiences that affect the success of any equality and equity training that you introduce. As such, tailor-made equality and equity training programmes should be considered to ensure it meets the needs of your company and staff.
Inclusivity through technology
To deliver equality and equity training, it’s important to consider using technology. After all, technology solutions are a form of practised inclusivity.
With a large team that is spread out across the nation, it’s important to find a mechanism that enables all employees to participate in the training. Since some employees may be too far away from your office to participate, they’re at a disadvantage and cannot be expected to travel a long distance to attend training.
As such, we need to use equitable ideas to provide them with the same opportunities as employees who can physically attend training. A great solution for this is to provide online e-learning options that are accessible on a range of different devices. This ensures all of your employees are included and gives them an equal opportunity to learn about equality and equity in the workplace.
Encouraging equal opportunities
To hold that training together, it’s important to establish an equitable culture in the workplace as well. This can include removing any posters or signs that contradict an equitable culture, such as gender-focused slogans, or performing workplace renovations that make it more comfortable for employees with a physical disability.
Lean into coaching behavioural change to ensure that this is pioneered by senior management staff, and also adopted by all staff members as part of their general behaviour at work. Leaders must also actively participate in these initiatives to inspire and encourage other staff to follow their example.
As more industries work towards creating equal opportunities for people of all backgrounds and circumstances, it’s important to focus on training and building an inclusive workplace culture to promote those values and ensure that all your staff are on the same page. While effective workplace training can educate your staff on equality and equity principles, the principles of sound organisational coaching can be the catalyst for lasting change – the kind that means your workplace culture will ultimately instil those values naturally into each member of your team.
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