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DEIB Recruitment: Equity vs Equality in the Workplace

The second letter in the DEIB acronym is equity. Often confused with equality, equity is an active state rather than a resting one. Without equity, there can never be equality, and without equality, a diverse and inclusive workforce can be impossible to achieve. How do you identify actions that need to be taken to achieve equity, and how do you apply equity to the recruitment and hiring process? 

Defining Workplace Equality

Equality in the workplace means that all employees have equal rights, resources, rules, opportunities, and functionality. Enforcing equality may seem simple on the surface: make sure all rules are applied in the same manner to each person. That seems fair and inclusive, at a glance, but it can end up being not as even-handed as it would appear.


This is because not all employees are identical. There is no even starting point for all employees. Everyone comes from a different background, with a different set of experiences and different levels of privilege. That privilege can mean that what might seem equal when applied to them has a very different effect when applied to someone else.


When you “treat everyone the same”, you can miss employee-specific needs that deserve to be accounted for. By being aware of the differences, you can take steps to help prevent unconscious bias, and create an inclusive company culture. Just in time: more than 50% of current employees want their workplace to do more to increase diversity.

Defining Workplace Equity

Equity in the workplace isn’t the same as equality. Rather it’s the process by which equality is achieved. Equity is designed to level the playing field, giving every candidate and employee what they need to perform to their top potential and holistically improving their quality of hire.


When applied correctly, equity helps to ensure fairness and equality in outcomes, not just in policies. When thinking about workplace equity, companies must both identify and acknowledge specific needs related to various demographics, such as race or ethnicity, gender and gender identity, and ableness, to identify gaps (and not just pay gaps, which is currently as high as 51%!)


Equity takes into account the needs and struggles faced by a wide range of individuals and uses them to guide decision-making workplace diversity and inclusion. When the active state of equity is practiced in order to empower all of your employees, the resting state of equality can finally be achieved.


See 6 Things You Should Know About Diversity in the Workplace


Understanding Resource Distribution

While equality is often misinterpreted as making the exact same resources available to everyone, equity is about identifying what resources are needed in total by a workforce, then distributing those resources in order to make every individual equally capable of success.


This can look like designing a lab workspace so that a wheelchair user can easily complete tasks, to providing priority parking for pregnant workers to shorten their walk to the office, to providing childcare access for single parents. 


It can also look like ensuring that females, people of color, and other commonly suppressed groups in the workforce have the same opportunities and ability to advance within your company as white males.


Plenty of legislation supports the goal of equity, but there is plenty of work left to be done. Company leaders and recruiters can play their part by directing resources where they are most needed to ensure access to opportunities is real and not just presumed. Programs must be specifically targeted to promote equity: currently, 75% of employees in underrepresented groups don’t feel they’ve personally benefited from their company’s DEI programs.

Transitioning from Equality to Equity

Building a culture of equity within a diverse workforce demands the buy-in of and input from the C-suite to ensure a thoughtful and intentional approach to equity. Diversity in leadership is critical to this process; change starts at the top. 


It’s not enough to build diverse teams. Your organization needs representation at the leadership and C-suite levels to ensure positive employee experiences and a net gain in profitability. Fewer than 10% of Fortune 500 companies have a female or non-white CEO, despite the fact that companies with diverse leadership financially outperform companies with little or no top-down diversity. In fact, companies with high racial diversity see 15 times more revenue and sales.


If your organization’s leadership doesn’t reflect your workforce, they are less likely to feel represented, and attempts at equity may be distrusted. By investing in a diverse leadership team, you foster equity and signal to your employees that viable career paths to upper levels in the organization exist, creating a sense of belonging.  


Find out How to Write the Perfect Job Description to Attract Diverse Talent

Benefits of Equity in the Workforce

Implementing equity in the workplace drives critical outcomes like diversity, inclusiveness, and a sense of belonging. Supporting employees of all backgrounds means everyone has the chance to succeed. Workplace equity can prove to be a challenging task, but yields many benefits, including:


  • Enhanced innovation
  • Increased employee engagement
  • Improved employee retention
  • Heightened financial performance


To be effective in their equity initiatives, companies must dedicate the requisite time and effort to understand the needs and challenges of specific employee groups, then work to actively address them and align their initiatives with existing business goals. The resulting equitable and inclusive environment will help you attract diverse talent and bring out peak potential in each employee.

Utilizing Metrics for Equity

How do you know where your organization currently stands when it comes to equity? Once you know your benchmark, how do you measure progress? The answers lie in your data and your workforce.


Start by taking a deep dive into your organization’s current state of equity. Collect all relevant diversity measures, including demographic data on ethnicity, race, and national origin as well as gender diversity and sexual orientation. Consider ableness, veteran status, and other markers that can help show you where you are meeting equity needs and where you are falling short.


Use advanced tools that can help you deploy higher levels of data organization and analytics. A talent intelligence platform can assist you in screening not only your candidate sourcing, but your hiring funnel and your employee turnover to identify obstacles in the way of equity.


  • Crosschq TalentWall™ makes it easy to map out diversity at every stage of your recruitment pipeline and highlight where you may be missing chances to bring equity to the hiring process. Recruiters can get a complete and holistic picture of where their pipeline is diverse, and where (or if) it narrows at some point, preventing diversity in hiring.



  • Crosschq 360 removes unconscious bias from the reference checking process, streamlining the system for faster completion of this critical step and allowing you to shift it to an earlier phase of recruitment. This gives you a more diverse final talent pool and encourages diversity in hiring by highlighting candidate skills and aptitude over resumes and interviews.

  • Crosschq Recruit delivers rich talent pools that can be used to build a robust workforce, driving higher levels of diversity at every level of hiring. It’s a faster, easier, and more efficient way to find the talent you need in a candidate pool that is already naturally diverse.



  • Crosschq Analytics measures your DEI KPIs and leverages data to spot which candidate attributes signal a higher potential for improved quality of hire and bring those candidates to the surface of your pipeline. It can also be leveraged to survey your newly hired employees, gaining insight into their specific needs so you can further your equity initiatives.

It’s time to embrace equity as the road to equality. To learn more about how Crosschq’s innovative talent Intelligence platform can help, request a demonstration today.


Elena Arney

by Elena Arney

Director of People & Culture

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