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Equity vs equality – What is the difference?

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Defining equity vs equality 

Let’s talk about equity vs equality. Equality is everyone being equal. This includes in aspects such as status, rights, and opportunities. In equality, everyone is given the same resources. 

Equity on the other hand is distributing resources based on the needs of the people.

Equity accounts for the fact that everyone might have equal rights but they don’t have the same circumstances. 

Using examples to explain equality

Equality for example would be giving everyone equal opportunity to work somewhere. I might have an equal opportunity to work somewhere as someone else but I might not get the job because of my circumstances. While the other person does get the job. 

If I am a minority woman I might not get the job because the employer could look at my name on my resume and judge me. In the interview, the employer might think I am not confident because he/she thinks women are not confident. The employer can discriminate against me thinking that because I am a woman I will get pregnant soon and leave. I won’t be willing to put in as much effort because I have children to take care of. All these biases can lead me to not getting the job. My circumstances can impact me getting the job even though on the surface level I have ‘equal opportunity.’

Using examples to explain equity

Now how does equity come into play? Equity gives people a deserving boost.  

When employment equity is used for a job if there are two people equally qualified the one that is eligible for employment equity will get the job. The key words being that the person is qualified. 

So, in my previous example, I spoke about a woman who wasn’t being hired because there was a bias that she would get pregnant or not work hard because of her children. For that woman that was discriminated employment equity provides an opportunity. That woman did not have the same chance of getting the job as her male counterpart.

People also believe that employment equity is used for everything. But the truth is there is a certain percentage of diversity firms require. So, for normal jobs, employment equity isn’t always used. Only when the percentage goes low employment equity is used. 

Explaining equity vs equality for black people

Systemic racism in terms of races such as black people has led to generations of black people losing out. Being slaves and then being unfairly imprisoned afterwards. Then fighting for equal rights to still having police brutality against them. Areas that black people live in are still poorer than white people. Schooling also discriminates against black people as teachers at times think they aren’t smart which can lead to self-fulfilling prophecy. Because black people previously have had less property they are less likely to have generational wealth which can put them at a disadvantage. In jobs, a black person might be less likely to get promotions. These things have been going on for years and it can create a cumulative effect. 

Policies such as what drugs to fight against or tax evasions all favour white people. Cocaine is considered cool while weed that has less impact had strict policing against it for years. 

This all leads to black people being at a disadvantage when it comes to education, employment, and many other aspects of life.

There are of course some black people that have been able to fight against this and reach high places. But imagine if they weren’t put down by their circumstances where they could reach. 

Video equity vs equality

Equity gives people fair shots. A powerful video to explain the importance of equity is one where it shows a race happening between students. Everyone starts at the same line. Then the professor says take a step forward if both your parents are still married. Then take a step forward if you never had to help your parents with the bill.  After that take a step forward if you never had to worry about your next meal. This goes on until mostly those who are left behind are minorities and black people. This video is powerful to show the importance of equity as well as what privilege really is. 

It might seem like we all start together with a fair shot. But the reality is circumstances can hold us back.

The argument against equity 

In any argument is important to show the other side’s view. People against equity think equal output is important. That the people given a fair shot during equity aren’t given it because they won’t produce equal output. In capitalism, a lot is seen from the lens of output. Arguments can include that that there will always be a small number of people at the top. Only a certain number of people can be at the top because not everyone can be the best. 

But the problem is other people haven’t had the opportunity to be at the top. Who knows they could produce more output if given the opportunity. Equity doesn’t mean undeserving people get an opportunity. Merit can and should still work with equity. 

Equity can also can create a quota system where seats are reserved for some people. Decreasing the chances of other people getting those seats. It can demotivate those who aren’t in the system of equity. 

It is important to therefore have a certain percentage of equity so other people still have opportunities. Equity can compensate for the disadvantages those groups have been put through. 

Now that you have learned more about equity vs equality think about how it plays a role in your life. 

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