What’s the Difference Between ‘Equity’ and ‘Equality’?

Understanding the difference between the terms ‘equity’ and ‘equality’ is key to many of the diversity and inclusion topics we discuss. Here are some brief definitions of each term, and why we prefer to use one of them when talking about racial outcomes.

Equality: equal sharing and division, keeping everyone at the same level. It gives the same thing to all people, regardless of their needs.

Equity: fair treatment, access, advancement, and opportunity for all people. It strives to identify and eliminate barriers that prevent the full participation of some groups or individuals. Promoting equity requires an understanding of the causes of outcome disparities within our society.1


How are these terms different?

Equality aims to promote fairness. This is only effective if all participants have similar starting points and the same access to resources for achieving their desired goals. This approach can intentionally disregard the needs of individuals.

Equity on the other hand demands that individual needs are taken into consideration. It accounts for identities (race, ethnicity, ability, nationality, gender, etc.) and circumstances that may otherwise hinder the success of one participant over another.

One example of equity is the provision of access ramps that allow people with different physical abilities to more fully engage in society by entering into and exiting from public buildings. Without access ramps, many public opportunities and resources would be inaccessible.

Equity means providing equal opportunity and resources for each individual. And when it comes to justice for everyone, equity asks that we take a step beyond fairness, seeking to dismantle the barriers that get in the way of individual success.

To find out more about how LEDA addresses the topic of equity, and in particular racial equity, please contact us or check out our Diversity Education Workshops.