So, what exactly is YOUR definition of Equity?
I get this question almost every time I engage in conversations around this topic; however, my definition never wavers. Equity is simply doing what is right and fair for all people at all times and in all circumstances. So why would my response not reflect what we find in most dictionaries? Could it be that in most printed materials, podcasts, social media posts, and other resources, this word is being used to reflect the communicator's experiences, or might I go as far as saying their agenda?
Equity represents the fundamental obligation to do what is right for all people; therefore, equality places the demand on equity. How? We were all created equal, so we all have a right to fair and proper treatment. Inequitable treatment can have such a harmful effect on those on the receiving end, but it should also feel incredibly disgusting to the one dishing it out!
The word equity has taken on a negative connotation or has been taken out of context and even misinterpreted. Instead of it bringing us together, it is being used to divide. Do you sleep? Do you drink water each day? Do you laugh when something is funny and cry when something hurts? Do you enjoy a favorite hobby or despise a particular food? Me too! You see, we are more alike than we are different. But somehow, we have focused more on our differences, which has kept us from embracing our uniquenesses as something to be appreciated, not criticized. Imagine what the world would be like if we all had the same color hair or the same skin tone? If all of our voices sounded the same or if the world was full of only men or women? I have a word for that-BORING!
What I love most about talking about equity is the agreement that probably ninety-five percent of us embrace. The belief that ALL people, no matter socioeconomic status, gender, skin color, religion, views, or any other factor, should be treated fairly.
Well, what can we do? How do we take on what seems like an irreparable issue? Here are some very practical steps.
1. Be determined to think about whether your interactions with EVERYONE you come into contact with are equitable- Right, and fair for that person at all times.
2. Be willing to have conversations about equity, determined to stick to the actual definition, and refusing to get caught up in pointless arguments. When someone tries to go in a different direction, keep saying, "I hope we are talking about the same thing when we say the word equity. Equity is doing what's right and fair for all people, at all times, and in all circumstances." But be willing to acknowledge the heart of the person you are talking to, knowing that inequities may have wounded them.
3. Refuse to perpetuate the cycles that have kept us divided. Examples: Don't start clubs or organizations that are exclusive to certain races. Don't allow your circle to only consist of those who look like you or think like you. We need to be intentional about being in the same spaces to appreciate what makes us all so extraordinary! Little to no experience with something is often the cause of fear or apprehension.
4. If you notice an inequity, SPEAK UP! Even if it does not directly affect you, it is wrong, and you should never stand around and watch inequitable treatment. Examples: You notice your boss overlooking or excluding another member of your team from decision-making or sharing their thoughts. Or you witness a cashier treating a customer who doesn't look like they fit society's idea of valuable, poorly, speak up! Or when You know a person is being overlooked for an opportunity because of their race or disability, say something!