International Women’s day is celebrated every year on the 8th of March. It’s a day to celebrate women and their achievements throughout history and the world. It’s also a day to remind ourselves, we still have a long way to go to achieve equity. With all the initiatives that are happening to promote women, according to the report by WEF in 2022, going by the current trends, it will take another 132 years for us to achieve gender parity. What can we do to Embrace Equity and be fair?
The themes of women’s day are carefully chosen to remind us about the small steps we can take to contribute to an equitable world. Last year’s theme #BreakTheBias, brought attention to biases women (and other underrepresented groups) experience at the workplace and how to call in or call out biases. The role of allies in creating equity can never be undermined.
Equity Vs Equality
This year’s theme #EmbraceEquity has special significance. Firstly, Equity and Equality are often used interchangeably, though they are significantly different from each other.
Last year in October, BCCI announced equal pay (match fees) for the members of the women’s Cricket team as the members of the men’s cricket team. This may be a small step, towards equity, but every step counts.
The following picture explains beautifully the difference between Equity and Equality
Equity is about ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential. Whether we’re talking about race, gender, sexuality, caste, economic status, or any other aspect of an individual, embracing equity means moving beyond recognising the unique perspective individual bring to the table to celebrating the perspective that makes us all unique.
Equity addresses both individual and institutional biases and attempts to create a level playing field for everyone to succeed. Workplaces, where equity is given its due concern, would be able to attract and retain top talent.
Equity & Fairness
The concept of Equity and Fairness go together and both relate to being inclusive at the workplace.
Equity emphasises providing resources based on the needs of individuals such that the outcomes are the same. Whereas fairness puts the spotlight on individuals such that each one is treated fairly. Treating everyone with respect and dignity are an important aspect of fairness.
Privilege & Equity
Let’s look at priviIege, I started and completed my education from a metro city, my parents had the knowledge and resources to educate me in an English medium school, I did not have to take tuitions to fund my college education. These are some of the privileges I have. With these privileges, I have a definite advantage in getting my first job. Even today, I never ever have to every worry about the mother tongue’s influence on my English will make me a subject of a “joke”. Which also indicates I’m blind to my privileges
Privilege is not absolute. A privilege in one aspect of my life may be a disadvantage in another. Let’s say I’m designated as a General Manager, working in an organisation, in the head office. In terms of hierarchy, I may be at a disadvantage as all the top leadership is in the head office, while my peers at the branch offices may be the topmost leader in their area. However, as a General Manager in HO I have access to top leadership and hence be advantaged in terms of faster decision-making.
Understanding privilege, helps us understand inequities in the workplace. This Women’s Day we pause and reflect on the systemic inequities and the personal inequities.
Psychological Safety & Equity
It’s an accepted fact, that diverse teams perform better in terms of innovation, market performance, longevity and engagement. New research indicates, diverse teams perform better only if they experience psychological safety in the team. This means each member of the team can present their ideas, opinions, questions, concerns or anything else without the fear of rejection or derision.
Leaders of the team have a large role to play in creating a psychologically safe environment by inviting new ideas, encouraging dissent, asking open-ended questions, and suspending judgements. The team members also have an equally important role to play by participating in discussions and inviting views from team members who have different points of view.
Systemic Inequities can manifest themselves in
- The Job design itself
- Compensation structure including the benefits & the bonuses
- Sourcing, Recruitment and hiring
- Career Development opportunities, access to high-visibility assignments
- Access to mentors and sponsors
- Performance appraisal, Promotions
- And all other people process
Addressing inequities is an important part of DEI initiatives. Inclusion cannot be attained without ensuring equitable access specifically for those who are less privileged than the others.
How can we #EmbraceEquity
At an individual level, reflect on what can you do to #EmbraceEquity. Reflect on your privileges and how can you support
This Women’s Day, going by the theme of #EmbracingEquity, can we pause and look at some of our privileges and explore ways to use the privilege towards people & groups who may not be as privileged as us.
This Women’s Day Ananya-Women@work brings you specially designed programs on #EmbraceEquity. Click on this link to know more.