Equality and Equity: One in the Same?

What is the difference? How do we achieve both?

It is helpful to be familiar with the difference between the terms “equality’ and “equity” to better understand how to conduct gender mainstreaming in your organisation.

Lebanon Support’s Gender Mainstreaming Manual offers the following definitions for equality and equity:

In addition to defining the difference between equality and equity, the above definitions also identify the relationship between the two terms when put into action. Ultimately, acknowledging and acting on gender equality precedes gender equity. In other words, gender equity is the end goal we strive to reach.

To achieve gender equality in your organisation, start by ensuring equal pay, for equal work, for all employees. To carry out this mission, you may create a salary scale that offers clear salary grades for the different positions at your organisation. A salary scale with transparent remuneration criteria, such as years of experience, level of education, and specific skill sets, can prevent discrimination based on race, nationality, colour, age, gender, religion, language, or political views.

While embedding policies that formally limit gender discrimination in your organisation – like adopting a clear salary structure – reflects your commitment to equality, it does not automatically accomplish gender equity, as these policies may not necessarily recognise the different needs and constraints of women, gender non-conforming individuals, and other vulnerable groups.

How do we, then, build on gender-sensitive policies and realise equity?

The answer is: needs assessment.

Conducting a needs assessment enables you and your organisation to be cognizant of the barriers and needs of your team. It also keeps you heedful of the equality gaps within your organisation and to address them through policy amendments. A needs assessment evaluates internal and external needs and creates the channels necessary to accommodate such needs in order to support the inclusivity of women, LGBTIQA individuals, and vulnerable groups in the workplace.

Internal needs are those directly linked to the work environment. Providing a seperate bathroom for gender non-conforming individuals if there are separate bathrooms labelled for men and women, or creating a shared bathroom for all employees, is one way to respond to an internal need existing within your organisation.

An external need refers to the external factors that extend beyond the workplace. These needs have to do with other roles or identities your team members may have besides being employees, for instance parenting. An example of accommodating external needs is allowing parents to have flexible working hours or to work from home when they need to pick children up from school, take medical appointments, among others.

Tools like salary scales and needs assessments give your team members confidence to increase their participation and pursue leadership positions, and support your organisation’s gender mainstreaming agenda.

For more tips on how to create a salary scale and/or a needs assessment, take a look at Lebanon Support’s “A Practical Guide for Civil Society Organisations in Lebanon towards Gender Mainstreaming.”

This Gender Manual is part of our Gender Equity Network project on the Civil Society Knowledge Centre [civilsociety-centre.org/gen], and Civil Society Incubator programme [csincubator.lebanon-support.org], and in collaboration with Diakonia. This manual is available in English and Arabic here.