Learning about equity, a game about exclusion, and tips for inclusion 

This year, UN Global Compact Network Netherlands is piloting two peer learning groups, one on Gender Equality and one on Climate Action. The goal is for the participating companies to learn more about these important topics, to dig into the challenges that they are facing, and to exchange best practices that can help overcome these challenges. This blog is the first of many in which we aim to capture our companies’ peer learning journey.

Equity versus Equality

Earlier this month, we held our first gender equality session on the topic of “Inequality vs. Inequity”, hosted by one of the co-leading companies – Deloitte – in their Edge-office in Amsterdam.

Equality and equity are often confused. Equality refers to an equal distribution of resources and opportunities. The problem with this is that this implies everyone benefits the same from this support. This assumption is false since people’s starting position and therefore also their needs can differ. “Equity” acknowledges these differences and seeks to provide the required support they need to achieve the same equitable outcome. Ultimately, we as a society and our companies should strive for equitable outcomes to get to fair outcomes.

Deloitte co-leads: Hilary Richters , Karen Lampe & Jason Jie

But how do we get to equality?

Companies’ daily HR practices determine whether or not someone gets hired, promoted, or paid a specific salary. Associations with people’s genders, race, jobs often have the effect of putting people into different – unequal – social groups.

Jason Jie, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Specialist at Deloitte Netherlands, explained that companies should ensure an inclusive environment that appreciates everyone’s unique, diverse characteristics and backgrounds. Companies should also reflect on their work culture, which could exclude certain groups of people.  

To get a better understanding of the feeling of exclusion, Jason prepared a simulation game around including and excluding behaviours. All participants were assigned roles by putting on a pair of glasses with a card, with numbers between 2 and 10 – so you could see each other’s numbers, but not your own. Everyone was given the task to only talk to people with high numbers – and ignore people with low numbers. During the evaluation of the game, everyone could effortlessly guess whether they had a high or low number. It made participants aware of the subtle behaviours we have at work where we may exclude people instead of making them feel welcome.

Interestingly, Jason noted that the social norm on what’s considered legitimate inclusion or exclusion changes over time. For example, an employee resource group for LGBTQIA+ people to share their experiences could be seen to legitimately include one group and exclude others. It’s therefore important to keep having dialogues on what inclusion means, and how it can contribute towards equity.

Companies’ best practices to promote equity 

Throughout the session, companies exchanged best practices to promote more inclusive, equitable work environments. For example, Deloitte has a Panel & Proposal Promise: they aim for panels and proposal teams to consist of 40% men, 40% women, and 20% of employees that belong to underrepresented groups. A different company shared that before they start an application process, they map the existing team and what traits or characteristics could help diversify the team. This could mean focusing on a different gender, ethnicity, or educational background, and considering whether people are extroverts or introverts. Another company shared that they promote a more diverse pool of applicants in a male-dominated sector by ensuring that if internal application processes don’t have at least 33% women  applicants, they will open up the position externally to reach this.

At the end of our session, our group of companies committed to implementing at least one inclusive practice in their business. We will reflect on how this went during the next session on April 13.

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