How can women (and companies) embrace equity?

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

In our modern society, the call to "Embrace Equity" echoes across every sphere of society. But what does this mean beyond the buzzword? It goes beyond mere equality, delving into the recognition of the unique support needed to address individual and group disparities.

Imagine it as a transformative journey—one that challenges us to dig deep, question biases, and champion the cause of inclusivity. As we start this journey, we need to take a moment to re-evaluate our approaches, policies, and practices. The goal? To craft a society where every individual, regardless of their background or identity, can not only survive but thrive, making meaningful contributions along the way.

So, how do we make sense of this journey? It starts by acknowledging that the call for equity is not just a checkbox on a to-do list; it's an ongoing commitment to change. It's about actively challenging biases, questioning norms, and creating spaces where everyone can bring their authentic selves to the table.

Table of contents

  • What does ‘embrace equity’ really mean?
  • How women can embrace equity
  • How companies can embrace equity
  • Conclusion

What does ‘embrace equity’ really mean?

Embracing equity involves acknowledging and dismantling systemic barriers that contribute to inequality. The 2023 International Women’s Day campaign articulated it well:Equity isn't just a nice-to-have, it's a must-have". Unlike equality, which assumes everyone starts from the same point, equity recognises that different individuals or groups face unique challenges. It emphasises providing resources and support based on specific needs to ensure that all have equal opportunities to succeed. This approach aims to address historical and societal imbalances, creating a more level playing field for everyone. For example, equitable inclusion of women in the tech industry could involve implementing targeted initiatives, such as scholarships, flexible work policies, and diverse hiring practices, to address unique challenges and dismantle systemic barriers. This approach aims to ensure equal opportunities for women, rectify historical imbalances, and create a more inclusive and diverse tech industry.

How women can embrace equity

Women, often facing unique challenges in the professional world, can actively embrace equity in various ways. For example, by advocating for inclusive policies, educating colleagues on the importance of diversity, leading by example, and actively contributing to employee resource groups. They can support training programmes addressing unconscious bias, speak up against inequities, aspire to leadership roles, foster collaboration, and seek continuous learning.

Women can also participate in mentorship programmes, where they can foster personal and professional development, provide and receive mentorship, and create networking opportunities. The RightBrains Growth and Mentor Programme, offers a unique combination of skills development expert workshops, career guidance and the opportunity to be part of a wider community of like-minded women. By participating in this and similar mentorship programmes, women gain access to valuable guidance, support, and resources, helping them overcome barriers and advance in their careers.

Embracing equity as a woman involves not only seeking opportunities for personal growth, but also actively supporting and uplifting other women in their professional journeys. Through these actions, women contribute to creating a workplace culture that values diversity, promotes equal opportunities, and strives for an inclusive environment where everyone can thrive professionally.

How companies can embrace equity

Companies play a pivotal role in promoting equity within their organisations and the broader community. Several key strategies can guide businesses in embracing equity:

Embracing equity through inclusive policies and practices

Companies should embrace equity by implementing inclusive policies that consider diverse needs and experiences. This includes fair hiring practices, unbiased promotion opportunities, and measures to eliminate any pay gaps. Additionally, fostering a culture of diversity and inclusion helps create an environment where all employees feel valued.

Embracing equity through diverse representation

Actively promoting diversity in leadership positions and decision-making processes is crucial. Companies should strive for a workforce that reflects the diversity of the communities they serve. This not only brings different perspectives to the table, but also sets an example for employees at all levels. According to McKinsey and Company in a report titled ‘Diversity wins: How inclusion matters’, research has also repeatedly shown that greater diversity in executive teams drives financial performance.

Equity training and education

Providing training on equity, diversity, and inclusion is essential. This education helps raise awareness about unconscious biases (UB) and fosters a more supportive workplace culture. Regular workshops and seminars can contribute to ongoing learning and understanding. However, make sure the education about unconscious bias goes beyond just awareness. Harvard Business Review writes that effective UB training “teaches attendees to manage their biases, change their behaviour, and track their progress”. This ensures you are not just ticking the box, but rather implementing training that can yield actual change. Organisations must also seek to find diversity initiatives that have an actual impact on the percentage of women and underrepresented minorities, like the RightBrains Masterclass: Leadership for diversity, which seeks to increase the number of women in IT.

Support programmes and initiatives

Establishing internal mentorship programmes, and supporting cross-organisational mentoring initiatives like the RightBrains Growth and Mentor Programme, can be instrumental in supporting employees' professional development. These initiatives create networks that empower individuals to navigate challenges, particularly those faced by underrepresented groups.

Transparency and accountability

Companies should commit to transparency regarding diversity metrics and progress. Establishing accountability mechanisms ensures that equity initiatives are not just lip service but integral components of the organisation's values and goals.

Conclusion

The journey to embrace equity is not a mere buzzword, but a profound commitment to transforming our societies, workplaces, and individual mindsets. It goes beyond the surface of equality, urging us to recognise and dismantle systemic barriers that perpetuate disparities. Whether on a personal or organisational level, embracing equity demands an ongoing dedication to challenging biases, re-evaluating practices, and fostering inclusivity.

For women navigating professional landscapes, the call to embrace equity involves not only overcoming personal challenges but actively advocating for systemic change. Through leadership, mentoringand a commitment to fostering inclusive environments, women contribute significantly to reshaping workplace cultures and paving the way for equal opportunities.

Companies, as influential players in societal dynamics, have a pivotal role in this transformative journey. Inclusive policies, diverse representation, equity training, and transparent accountability are essential components for businesses to contribute meaningfully to the pursuit of a fair and just society.

The vision of equity is not a utopian ideal; it is a tangible goal achievable through collective effort and a commitment to continuous improvement. By actively embracing equity, we lay the foundation for a future where every individual, regardless of their background, can thrive and contribute meaningfully. Embrace equity, and together we can build a more just and equitable future for all!

By Milica van Leeuwen Bobic

Milica van Leeuwen Bobic is a contributing author for RightBrains and supports our mission of promoting gender balance in digital technology. Holding two Master's degrees and with years of working in the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) space, she offers a unique perspective on topics like social justice and organisational D&I.