While the terms equity and equality may sound similar, the implementation of one versus the other can lead to dramatically different outcomes for marginalized people.
Equality means each individual or group of people is given the same resources or opportunities. Equity recognizes that each person has different circumstances and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome.
In the illustration below, two individuals have unequal access to a system — in this case, the tree that provides fruit. With equal support from evenly distributed tools, their access to the fruit still remains unequal. The equitable solution, however, allocates the exact resources that each person needs to access the fruit, leading to positive outcomes for both individuals.
While the tree appears to be a naturally occurring system, it’s critical to remember that social systems aren’t naturally inequitable — they’ve been intentionally designed to reward specific demographics for so long that the system’s outcomes may appear unintentional but are actually rooted discriminatory practices and beliefs.