What Is the Difference Between Equality and Equity?

Just two letters in the difference between equality and equity spell out two very different approaches — here’s how you can understand how they’re different.

DEI is the most common acronym in the diversity space. D for diversity, E for equity — not equality — and I for inclusion. Why the difference?

Equality suggests that treating everyone equally will solve the diversity problem, yet that has resulted in little to no change. Equity by contrast is about meeting the needs of individuals that are systemically marginalized because of factors outside their control — race, ethnicity, class, age or gender most commonly — yet many more.

There are three key differences between equity and equality.

Equity means:

  1. Providing resources to those that need them the most first
  2. Educating the majority group on their role in inclusion
  3. Proactively communicating the importance that DEI is not a zero-sum game

Provide resources to those that need them the most first

Equity is about putting the needs of those most marginalized first. That means those that have been systemically disadvantaged due to their gender identity, race, ethnicity or other dimensions of diversity are prioritized with resource allocation. Resources such as education, mentorship opportunities and sponsorship need to be allocated to those that reflect the general population. Unfortunately, resources are often overallocated to the majority group that already holds the most privilege and proxy to power, reinforcing the status quo.

Examples of resource allocation are….

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