While focus on equality and diversity can help to measure at the surface level who is present, and who is not, it’s shortcomings are numerous. The person who is doing the measuring decides what the norm is and inevitably holds a position of ‘power over’. For example, when the measuring stick is held by a man, equality can manifest as the presence of women on staff and the absence of maternity leave for women. That is, a male non-birthing body becomes the measuring stick for equality, leaving out the unique differences that are both relevant and important. Equity includes Black voices, children’s voices, Islamic voices, voices who’s words you don’t understand... voices that come from old bodies, short bodies, differently-abled bodies transgender bodies, freckled bodies, Indigenous bodies, bodies with bark and bodies of water.
Focus on equity (and justice) requires a deeper look at the ‘invisible’ systems, prejudices, power dynamics and social narratives in place. Equity allows us to see the world in a totally different way, as outlined by Dafina-Lazurus Stewart in her comparison of diversity and inclusion to equity and justice: “When diversity asks, ‘Who’s in the room?’ Equity responds, ‘Who’s trying to get in the room but can’t? Whose presence in the room is under constant threat of erasure?’ Inclusion asks, ‘Has everyone’s ideas been heard?’ Justice responds, ‘Whose ideas won’t be taken as seriously because they aren’t in the majority?’ Diversity asks ‘How many more of [pick any minoritized identity] group do we have this year than the last?’ Equity responds, ‘What conditions have we created that maintain certain groups as the perpetual majority here?’
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