Why Equity Matters
Why equity? Why not equality?
Equity is fair treatment; equality is equal treatment. If you start from a place of disadvantage and are then treated equally as a person with advantage, you perpetuate and ultimately grow the gap between the two of you. You need equitable measures first to close that gap and get everyone to a level playing field.
If you are a woman in business, odds are you have been and/or are subject to micro-aggressions and maybe even overt discrimination that has negatively impacted your career in some way. Whether it's overly protective paternal treatment or more systemic discrimination, it has an impact.
If, then, the tides suddenly turn and you are given an opportunity to compete equally for something, you are still operating from a baseline that has been disadvantaged. This is why it is so critical to infuse equitable measures all along the way to strip out bias from women’s career experiences. It is the only way to ensure we can compete fairly.
The financial aspect of equity goes hand-in-hand with this. Women are often expected or asked to take on the uncompensated or under-compensated tasks in the workplace - admin work, event planning, meeting organizing, volunteer efforts, etc. This does not do us any favors; it just makes us busier while already having to work harder to get to even.
On top of this, research has shown time and time again that women on average are paid less than men for the same work, particularly women of color. We are reliant on our male allies and female leaders to advocate for us and make sure our responsibilities and compensation are equal to our male counterparts. We need you to keep pushing for this until we can turn the tide and get it to standard practice.
The real strengths of equity are in ownership, power, a seat at the table, and a voice and vote that matter. A recent study led by #Angels and conducted by Carta about female founders revealed that “women make up 33% of the combined founder and employee workforce but hold just 9% of the equity value. The other 91% belongs to men…The average female founder owns just 39¢ in equity for every $1 that the average male founder owns.”
This shows that even as founders, CEOs, and innovation leaders, women are valued as “less than,” taken advantage of more often, or both. Even when we are bringing to market new, highly-demanded services and products that yield significant profit for our employees and shareholders.
We have to continue the keep the discussion top-of-mind with CEOs, leaders, and investors - to push back, to negotiate, and to seek out support for equitable treatment, opportunities, and compensation for women as a standard. Without their partnership in driving change, we are only talking to ourselves, and we will not get to a place where equal treatment benefits everyone.
By Michelle Bogan. Throughout her twenty-five-year career, Michelle Bogan has mentored colleagues and clients, founded and led women's groups, and helped promote many women and men to leadership positions. In 2018, she founded Equity for Women to advance the mission of empowering women at work.