International Women’s Day: #EmbraceEquity

Happy International Women’s Day to all the incredible women out there. The women running households, leading pitches, collecting water, hiring and firing, feeding children, dashing for trains, walking miles to see a doctor. Wherever you are in the world, whatever you’re doing, we celebrate you. And to the women who went before us, thank you. For many of us, it has never been a better time to be a woman. But sadly, for the majority of women, life continues to be a hardship with little to no recognition.

This year’s IWD campaign theme is Embrace Equity. And if I’m honest, what first sprung to mind was getting on board with your company’s stock options! After a bit of research and help from ChatGPT (and yes I have used her;she’s fab, but I don’t think she’s going to put us out of business just yet), I think I’m a little clearer.

Equity and equality are both concepts that relate to fairness and justice, but they are not the same thing.

Equality refers to treating everyone in the same way, without discrimination or preference. It is the idea that all people should be given equal access to opportunities, resources and rights. This can be achieved through laws, policies, and programs that ensure everyone is treated the same way regardless of their race, gender, religion, or socioeconomic status. For example, providing the same pay and resources for two people who hold the same role and responsibility within a business.

Equity, on the other hand, recognises that not everyone starts from the same place or has the same needs, and therefore, fairness may require treating people differently in order to achieve equality. Equity involves giving the tools and opportunities required in order to achieve equal outcomes. This means that some people may need more resources or support than others to achieve the same level of success. So if two people are given appropriate  amounts of money and  resources based on their ‘starting position’, then they are being treated equitably.

If equality focuses on treating everyone the same way, while equity focuses on treating people differently based on their individual needs, how do we achieve outcomes that work for everyone? Both concepts are important in promoting fairness and justice, but they require different approaches.

It’s really got me thinking how at Contented we can support women in giving them what they need to succeed. And what does success look like? 

For some women, this is completing their education, so they might need financial help to do so. This is the case for Grace, in Kenya. For others it’s the offer of flexible working hours. For many, it’s support in ensuring their pay reflects their value. Whatever it is, it’s really important not to apply a blanket approach. We have to resist the narrative that money and childcare are the only things we need to address to help women flourish and succeed. 

At Contented, we have a long way to go. But we’re trying to champion each team member’s individual requirements, providing space to accommodate mental health needs, flexible hours to enable child or elderly parent care to fit in around work and pay that is above the industry standard. We’d love to hear how your organisation is embracing equity, or is perhaps struggling to.

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