Diversity is Fine . . . What about Equity?

I was at the gym the other night when I noticed a little person struggling to reach the free weights. At about three feet tall, he could barely see over the top of the weight rack. Luckily, his friend came over, took down a pair of weights for him and he continued his workout.

Looking around, I realized that my gym was not terribly little-person-friendly. The water fountains were average-person height, as were the machines, exercise balls, and cardio equipment. Come to think of it, every gym I’ve ever been to only serves average-sized clientele. If little people want to work out at a gym, it seems they are very limited in what they can do there.

This got me thinking about the way we look at diversity and inclusion. There has been a strong push over the last several years for organizations to attract and retain more diverse talent. But does more diverse really mean more inclusive? What about equity? Does simply hiring minority talent mean they have the same chance to reach their full potential as the majority? Do women, people of color, LGBT, and the differently-abled have an equal shot at success?

I believe we’re on the right track with the best of intentions for a more diverse, inclusive workplace. But I can’t help but wonder how much progress we will ultimately make if we keep the same organizational structures, beliefs, paradigms, and models that have only supported the majority.

Does it make good business sense to implement changes that benefit only a minority of stakeholders? I think so. I think we’d be living in a much better world if we were more accepting of differences; if we worked to ensure everyone has the means and the opportunity to achieve. Don’t you?

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One Comment

  1. Thanks for sharing your opinion about this. Well observed and totally true. Diversity doesn’t automatically lead to equity, such as equality isn’t the same as equity. There’s a well-known picture of a man, a teen and a boy watching a baseball game from the outside with three boxes below their feets. If we apply the rules of equality, everyone of them deserves one of the boxes, but still the boy isn’t able to see something. If we apply the rules of equity, the man gets no box (and is still able to enjoy the match), the teen gets one (enough) and the little kid gets two boxes so that all three of them can see the match from the same height.

    Wow, it’s not that easy to describe a picture, I guess, it would have been easier to share the link. 🙂

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