Blog POST

5 Things Everyone Gets Wrong About Equity Work

Equity is the buzzword of the 2020s. But do you really know what it means?

It’s 2021, and your organization is dealing with a global pandemic, an era-defining cultural reckoning with systemic inequity, and a massive shift in the American job market. Employees are cycling in and out of the door, searching for jobs that better reflect their values and vision for a better tomorrow. You need an equity plan if you want to adapt to these rapid changes, and you need it fast.

Prioritizing equity is great, but if you’re new to the concept and feeling like this long-overdue cultural reset is a trial by fire, then you’ll probably need some outside help to get you on the right track. There’s a LOT of information out there about equity work these days, but not all of it is sound advice. To avoid the most common pitfalls, we want to lay out the top five things your organization might be getting wrong about equity work.

  1. You can achieve it in a one-day workshop. It’d sure be nice if we could solve all our social problems in an afternoon with a PowerPoint, but unfortunately that’s just not gonna cut it. As with anything truly worth pursuing, achieving equity takes time and hard work. But don’t let that intimidate you; putting in the hours and effort now will save you, your employees, and your entire organization a whole lot of headaches down the road.
  2. It’s just about anti-racism. Anti-racism is a huge and important part of our Equity Innovation work, because we ALL know we live in a racist society. But equity means we make space for every marginalized identity. If your equity work doesn’t include gender, sexuality, differences of ability, nationality, ethnicity, class status, and beyond — it ain’t equity work. Nobody expects you to be an expert on all of these identities right away, but that’s what makes it so important to reach out to a consultant for help navigating these issues.
  3. Equity is an end goal. When our clients come to us for help with their equity work, we always tell them that equity isn’t the goal — it’s the process. Listening to, affirming, and uplifting the voices of the people closest to the pain is how you get closest to the solution. Your top-down equity plans aren’t going to work because you’re imposing change instead of co-creating it. What does co-creating it look like? There’s no one-size-fits-all approach — every organization will require different levels and methods of participation and input, but one thing is for sure: it’s non-negotiable.
  4. Equity is a handicap. Most people see equity as a tactical minefield they can’t navigate. In today’s reactive digital culture, if they make the wrong misstep, they’ll be crushed by the blowback. But let’s face it — humans aren’t perfect, but they’re always trying to be better. They learn, create, build, and imagine better because of their differences. Our equity work helps our clients understand that equity is a lifelong commitment and that it’s all about how you handle those tough moments, not about preventing them in the first place.
  5. Equity is possible without systemic change. As the saying goes, you can’t stick a band-aid over a bullet wound. Making tweaks and short-term fixes not only aren’t going to work, but they may make your inequity problem even worse. Equity work requires taking a hard look at how your whole system operates and leveraging change at the right points in that system to truly fix the issues. If it sounds intimidating, let us assure you: once you enact this kind of systemic change, you’ll wonder how you ever did without it.

Need some help giving your organization a crash course in equity work? Schedule a discovery call with our Equity Innovation Studio today to see how we can guide your workplace’s transformation.