Leveling the Playing Field

The tools needed to achieve success aren’t one-size-fits-all. Fostering equity in the workplace means that people sometimes need diff erent resources in order to reach the same positive outcomes.

IMAGINE THIS: Canned peaches are on the menu this afternoon, so Jane and Darla need to pull cans from the storage room. These are stored on a shelf that’s about 6 1/2 feet off the ground, however, and neither Jane nor Darla can reach them without assistance. But no matter, everyone has a step stool available that boosts them up about 1 foot. This works just fine for Jane, who’s 5’7" and can now easily reach the canned fruit. Darla, however, is just 5’2", and despite the extra height from the step stool, she still can’t retrieve the cans in a safe manner.

This commonplace school kitchen scenario, which is probably familiar to anyone who’s vertically challenged, is a fitting allegory for the concept of equality versus equity. Jane and Darla both have access to a 1-foot step stool—that’s equality. However, to make things equitable—that is, to allow both women to achieve the same positive outcome—Darla needs a different resource. She needs a 2-foot step stool...

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