Thanks to Shark Tank, we all are aware of the term “Equity” a lot more than most of us ever were. Equity and Equality are two very commonly used words in today’s corporate life but get used interchangeably, unfortunately.
The word equity is often connected to finance, incorporates however, finance is just one of the many components that get covered in equity. So let us understand “Equity” a little more before we move further.
Workplace Equity means that the workplace will treat all its employees with fairness without any known or unknown biases, in the literal sense.
In our workplace, we have a mix of talent who come from different backgrounds, beliefs, and resources at our disposal and of course different capabilities. As we intend to grow as an organization, we start defining, designing, and implementing our policies, processes, and programs with one goal of impacting all of our people equally.
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This, however, is the honey pot of the errors. We miss that the needs could be different for our people and we need to start thinking of different ways of addressing their needs as per their requirements not as per what fits our thought process well.
One size no more fits all!!
How to Build Workplace Equity and Equality
We, as HR professionals need to start putting a very different lens of seeing what will make the work culture of our organization and the journey of our people more engaging, more progressive, more compatible, and more long-lasting. This will be defining the impact the HR professionals on their organization and people in the coming decade.
When people find themselves understood, cared and groomed by their HR and by their leadership, it induces the feeling of belongingness, loyalty, and the passion to contribute beyond the call of the job.
Workplace Equity is a concept that needs a lot of work at the ground level by passionate HR professionals because unless they are aware of the ground reality, they will not be able to condense the information into actionable initiatives.
Let’s take some examples, to understand how we can build a workplace that has Workplace Equity before Equality. We often plan grooming sessions on leadership concepts for the HIPOS thinking that all my high potential will be benefitted from these mentoring sessions.
What we miss to evaluate is- is my entire audience truly standing on the same platform. To elaborate, we must, before designing and arranging such sessions, make sure that we are fully aware of the background of our target audience, we must ensure that we know what exposure this group has had in the past in their journey to become potential leaders, where they need help, the feedback they have received from their peers, seniors and most importantly have a fair understanding of their personal responsibilities.
Once all this information is available for each and every person you intend to groom, you will realize that the approach you were initially taking will not get the desired results from all of your participants. So, you shift gears, you change your approach to cater to the needs of smaller batches targeting to bridge the specific gaps identified.
You will soon realize that the impact of the programs is hitting the bull’s eye faster than ever, you are getting the desired impact on your people’s performance earlier than you expected and eventually, the ROI is attained faster and the bonus is happier people who are going to provide the value added by going an extra mile in response to your gesture of understanding them and providing them exactly what they needed.
This must be replicated for all people without exceptions. This is not going to be an easy or short journey. This is going to take a lot of effort for HR professionals, to collect, understand, analyze, verify, and then act on the data.
In fact, this approach will also require a lot of effort while convincing the other leadership in the organization because this is still to be experienced at its full potential.
Every change, dear professionals, tests the patience of the change leaders. But if you really want to be ahead in the industry, if you really wish to make an impact on your people and organization , own this responsibility and take this leap of faith, put in your dedicated efforts, and see the fruits of your efforts and passion getting bloomed in your Employee Engagement Survey results getting better, in dropping rates of attrition, in the more equipped and competitive workforce and eventually more business being generated.
Once this is achieved, we can comfortably plan to bring more equality at work. Which in reality means bringing in people to your organization as per the Diversity and Inclusion policy of your organization, without any biases or discrimination. This will be not as difficult to achieve as it has been in the past because you are now equipped with tools, techniques, and knowledge of how will you help this diversified workforce settle in your organization faster and more comfortably, how will you support them grow and sustain and most importantly how will make them feel cared about in their organization.
To sum up, the idea would like to share that HR professionals and Leadership teams must be prepared to embrace the change. Let us have clarity on how different these two terms – Equity and Equality, are and let ‘Equity’ be the pre-cursor to ‘Equality’ so that we build an engaged, progressive, and futuristic workforce at our organizations.