While both equity and equality are important, the shift to equity is significant as it's about creating opportunities that are fair, rather than opportunities that disporpotionantly benefit the dominant group. Belgium-based inclusion specialist Tamara Makoni, founder of Kazuri Consulting clearly explains the difference with the following:
"Imagine that you are babysitting two children, and they are hungry. You go to the fruit bowl, and you start to pick up two apples to give them to each child. However, you remember at the last moment that one of the children is allergic to apples. Instead, you reach for one apple and one banana, and that way you're being fair," explains Tamara. "You still give one piece of fruit to each child, but you're also being equitable because you're giving each child a legitimate way of satisfying their hunger. If you had gone for two apples, the child who's allergic to the apple would on the surface have a way to satisfy their hunger, but they couldn't do that without getting ill. In this way you're being fair," says Tamara. "You're giving each child a piece of fruit but, you're also giving them something that is in line with their individual needs so they can be successful."
We have undoubtedly made progress towards equality but are still steps behind when it comes to equity and inclusion. In our Women Who Lead panel discussion, that was held in celebration of International Women's Day, we heard for three women about the hurdles they've overcome on their respective journey's.
Bias & Barriers
Dr Atreyee Saha shared her experiences as a woman of colour in the STEM industry, citing a particular example of bias she faced at a prestigious educational institution in England. Atreyee was brought on to the team because of her expertise as well as her much needed perspective as of a woman of colour, in what was a predominately white, middle aged, male environment. Only to start and find that the people who she was working with were not interested in her opinion or thoughts. She faced micro aggression, a lack of support and was unable to move forward with the initiatives she’d been brought in to pursue, ultimately leaving the role after 5 months. This was a glaring insight into the difference of equality and equity. While the opportunity existed for a woman of colour, the environment was not set-up for them to succeed. It was the perception of equality rather than true equality.
The gender health gap is a prominent issue for women that has huge implications on our ability to perform at work. Bupa has estimated that £1 million women leave the workforce every year due to menopausal symptoms and the lack of awareness and support offered by managers and organisations. Future Woman, an at home hormone testing kit, was born from their founder Eloise's own disappointing experience when looking for support for her debilitating PMS that was interfering with her high pressure role at Goldman Sachs. After being told, over again, by numerous GP’s and medical professionals that her pain was normal and to take the contraceptive pill to relieve her symptoms, Eloise was forced to take her health into her own hands. By sheer persistence, Eloise began to understand her hormones and not only eradicated her pain but optimise her productivity based around her cycle. Her mission it to empower women to feel their best and tell them that this does not need to be a state that we accept as "normal".
So, what can we do to continue the charge towards change and address the issues and bias that still exist? Amelia Christie-Miller, Founder of Bold Bean Co, spoke to the importance and power of supporting female owned issues. If we want change, then we need to invest in the people supporting and driving the causes that make a difference in our lives. More women in positions of power and influence, who aren't afraid to stand up for our rights, is how we ensure that women are not only given equal opportunities, but that we are creating environments where they can succeed. While we may have the right to education and to enter the workforce, creating an environment that support our success is critical. Equity is having longevity of career, post children and menopause, and never leaving a job because of a lack of support and inclusion.
The incredible panellists and contributors
Amelia Christie-Miller, Founder of Bold Bean Co
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