Equity Book Summary - Equity Book explained in key points
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Equity summary

Minal Bopaiah

How to Design Organizations Where Everyone Thrives

3.7 (149 ratings)
21 mins
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    We must learn to see the inequity baked into our systems.

    The words “diversity” and “inclusion” seem to be on every manager's lips these days. But what about the middle child in the DEI acronym – equity? Why is it so frequently overlooked in discussions about social justice?

    One answer is that people think equity is just a synonym for equality, so nothing more needs to be said. But they’re really two different concepts. Equality is about ensuring that everybody has access to the same things, whether it’s equal pay, equal rights, or equal recognition before the law. Equity, on the other hand, is about making room for difference. A society is equitable when everyone has access to what they personally need to thrive, according to their own unique vision of success.

    And that’s why calling for diversity and inclusion is a toothless gesture – unless it’s backed up by equity. It’s not enough to fill roles with people from marginalized backgrounds; you also need to build structures that will accommodate people’s differences. If you want to create a truly fair and inclusive organization, you must think systemically.

    The key message here is: We must learn to see the inequity baked into our systems.

    One of the greatest obstacles to systematic change in the US is the pervasive myth that all success and failure in life are just consequences of individual effort. This myth is so entrenched that we struggle to recognize how systems and structures influence our entire lives. 

    Let’s consider the US education system. In America, the level of funding a school receives is dependent on local property taxes. This funding model is unique – and not in a good way. Most other countries fund schools on a national level; they distribute tax revenue equally. Each school gets the same amount, wherever it’s based. 

    Not in the US, though. In America, the richer the neighborhood, the more funding its schools get. 

    There is basic inequity at the root of this system. To put it bluntly, it's a system that helps the rich stay rich, and the poor stay poor.

    To make matters worse, wealth in the US also tends to fall along racial lines. Most of the assets are concentrated within white communities. That means white children are generally more likely to go to better-funded schools. 

    In this way, the American education system helps to entrench racial divisions. Whether the people who designed American schools intended to exclude people or not, they baked inequity into the core of the US education system. 

    But not all is lost. Just as systems have been designed for inequity, they can also be redesigned for equity.

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    What is Equity about?

    Equity (2021) is your guide to building equitable systems in the twenty-first century. It was designed to help socially conscious leaders with the challenging task of creating fair and inclusive organizations that work for everybody.

    Who should read Equity?

    • Leaders who want to embed their values into their business or nonprofit
    • Diversity officers tasked with promoting a diverse and inclusive office culture
    • Anyone who wants to be more mindful of bias in their thinking and behavior

    About the Author

    Minal Bopaiah is a speaker, author, and strategist motivated by a lifelong passion for creating a more inclusive and equitable world. She is the founder of the strategy and design firm Brevity & Wit, which guides organizations through the process of inserting diversity, accessibility, and fairness into their structures and processes. Bopaiah is regularly invited to speak at conferences and has been a guest on numerous podcasts and radio programs, including the Kojo Nnamdi show.

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