Equity vs. Equality

By MNR News posted 08-16-2021 07:09


illustration of a group of peopleThere is confusion in the world over the two terms equity and equality. In the real estate world, it’s easy to automatically think of the equity in a property. But it’s not just in the real estate realm where confusion lies in equity and equality. Some believe ‘equity’ is new jargon that goes against everything they were taught. Most of us probably remember being taught at a young age that we should treat everyone fairly, or ‘equally’. But put into practice, would you really treat a 9-year old-child the same way you would a 43-year-old adult?

Take the illustration below. The scene on the left illustrates ‘equality’. Three individuals looking over a fence, all different heights. ‘Equality’ would be to give all three individuals the same size box to stand on. The tall person does not need assistance to view the ball game on the other side of the fence; but the small child needs more than one box to see over the fence. Treating all 3 equally does lift all three up, but to the same level – even though one person does not need to be lifted.

The illustration on the right shows that giving 1 box to the person of medium height, 2 boxes to the small child, and no box to the tall person is providing everyone the assistance they need to all be on level ground. This is what ‘equity’ is. It’s having an understand that we are not all the same, and some need more assistance than others.

Illustration of people standing on boxes looking over a fence

Illustration by Angus Maguire

In summary:

  • Equality = Sameness
  • Equity = Fairness

If you wish to learn more about equity vs. equality, the MNR Diversity Committee encourages you to attend a FREE workshop on Wednesday, August 18th at 1:00 pm This workshop is a production of Penumbra Theatre, and will look at the 3 A’s of equity: acknowledge, attend, and address. This framework is used to support learning around the successive steps to enacting equity and offers opportunity to consider how change can be undertaken at the personal/interpersonal level, as well as the organizational/systems level. Participations will be asked to consider the harm that micro-aggressions can cause and explores how we can work to prevent harm through the awareness and experience of others.