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Equity vs Equality, It's Not an Even Playing Field

Updated: Nov 17, 2019



I recently attended the ‘Mindful Inclusion’ Discussion, facilitated by Orlando Bailey, at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Relations at Syracuse University. The conversation was intended to highlight topics such as race, ethnicity, and gender relations, but was ultimately driven by issues of race in America. While I left the discussion feeling hopeful because voices of the oppressed are beginning to be heart and validated in a safe and loving space, we still have a very long way to go.


After the event I sat down with Kai Wright, a junior at Syracuse University to hear her thoughts:




One of the biggest take-aways from the event was the concept of equity vs. equality. Dr. Gray, a professor at Syracuse University said "The further you are down the totem poll, the more people you need behind you." This statement is equity in a nutshell.


But before we move forward, let’s clearly define the difference between equity and equality. According to ThoughtCo, “Equality is providing the same level of opportunity and assistance to all segments of society, such as races and genders. Equity is providing various levels of support and assistance depending on specific needs or abilities.”


The University of Michigan’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion does a phenomenal job communicating its stance on diversity and inclusion. The Chief Diversity Officer Robert Sellers, tackles these issues by reference dancing in his definitions of diversity, equity, and inclusion, he said:

“Diversity is where everyone is invited to the party”

“Equity means that everyone gets to contribute to the playlist”

“Inclusion means that everyone has the opportunity to dance”


Often times when having conversations and discussions centered around the idea of diversity and inclusion, the conclusion is to treat everyone equally and provide equal resources and opportunities. But what happens when the playing field was never even to begin with? What happens when we start to identify the fact that everyone did not start on the same level? That’s when equity versus equality is brought into the conversation.


As PR professionals, it is our responsibility to ensure that we are coming from a place of equity rather than equality when producing content and forming campaigns, and when creating employment opportunities. By providing equal resources and opportunities to everyone, some will still get left behind; due to the fact that we don’t all start on the same foot. The moment that everyone begins to understand and acknowledge that concept, we will start to see a shift in society.


Equity in Content Creation/Forming Campaigns:

The best way to demonstrate equity when creating content, is to ensure that the adequate amount of resources in being provided to the target audience in order for that group to understand the information produced. Another way is to make sure that group has proper accessibility to the products or services being offered.


Equity when Creating Career Opportunities:

Malcolm X once said, "The most disrespected, neglected, and unprotected person in America is the black woman". When thinking about career opportunities in the PR industry and communications industry as a whole, the options are limited for black women. The journey from entry level is one that is very long and tedious. Black women are often required to put out more work that other majority groups without seeing the benefit. The first step to combat this is issue is to: create spaces and opportunities for black women to be elevated within the industry.




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