The word equity is heard a lot in today’s world. As an employer, you have probably heard about the importance of having an equitable working environment.
Equity in your workplace is important for many different reasons. It not only results in happier and more productive employees but it decreases your risk of a lawsuit based on claims of discrimination or wage and hour disputes.
Equity v. equality
Most people think equity is the same as equality, but this is not true. Equality is treating everyone the same, no matter what.
Equity involves creating a workplace environment that allows everyone the same opportunities to succeed. For example, a cashier at a grocery store might have leg problems and need a chair to be comfortable behind the register.
Allowing the cashier to use a chair is practicing equity. Telling them they cannot have a chair because no one else has a chair and you need to treat everyone equally is not equity. After all, no one else needs the chair so why would you need to provide one for everyone?
Perform regular equity assessments
Form a team of people to regularly assess and update your policies related to equity. Anonymous surveys are a good way to gauge your employees’ feelings on things like pay and promotion structure, support and training.
Wage equity is a common area of dispute. When performing your assessment, note if you have employees who make significantly different salaries, but perform essentially the same job. If you do, you could be opening yourself up to a claim of wage discrimination.
Promote open communication
It is illegal to tell employees not to discuss their salaries with each other. In fact, encourage open conversations about wages and job duties. This will reduce feelings of resentment or of being treated unfairly.
Equity in your recruitment process is also important. There are many things you can do to reduce claims of biased or discriminatory hiring practices, such as focusing less on employee credentials and more on experience or using a collaborative hiring process.
These are just a few ideas to increase equity in your workplace. Despite your best efforts, you may one day find yourself facing a lawsuit. Experienced employment attorneys can help you put on a strong defense.