If you’ve read the title of this article and thought of “equity” in the context of pay or DEI initiatives, you’re right. Yet there is another type of equity that you may not be as familiar with. And while it underpins most modern workplace efforts to achieve parity, DEI plays a vital role in how much DEI progress an organization can actually make.

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“Development equality,” as I define it, means equal access to formal, career-enhancing development opportunities for underrepresented minorities and women. It’s a concept I created to help organizations take the first step towards being successful in the “future of work”. At the core of the concept that has been discussed recently, the “future of work” is less about where people work and how they work. Specifically, how they are perceived, valued and rewarded for their talents, skills and experience.

So, where does growth equity fit in and why is it so important? There is a reckoning on the horizon for employers. This can be traced to a simple idea: how much organizations are willing to invest in keeping their talent happy and productive.


Growth equity lays the groundwork for a smart and systematic approach to that investment so that organizations can meet the demands of employees: teams and leadership and a more diverse approach in an inclusive environment that helps any individual on their journey through the organization. kind of support. As we leap forward in innovation in many areas of our working lives, organizations often lag behind in recognizing what matters most: our human potential.

issues in securing equity

Activism around the gender pay gap began in the 1800s, but not until the 1960s began to pay attention to the legacy that past discrimination had left behind. In 1980, Estimated Gender Pay Gap was 36 cents. In 2020, it was 16 cents. Addressing those issues and taking steps towards pay equity didn’t happen just because people became more aware. The gap improved somewhat as organizations began to track and measure their efforts.

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When it comes to DEI efforts, particularly in the area of ​​organizational leadership, the results are mixed. In 1980, the number of female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies was zero. In 2020, that number was 37 (7.4%). In 1980, the number of black CEOs of Fortune 500 companies was also zero. Yet in 2020, that number will only increase to . was done four (0.8%).

Now, after the events of 2020, organizations face a dilemma. How do they honor the commitments they have made to improve the diversity of their employees and leaders, when the talent they need comes from under-represented populations that are disproportionately affected by the pandemic? With a smaller talent pool and a focus on workplace priorities, organizations should be looking less for talent acquisition and more for talent development.

How to measure and drive change

Think honestly about the promotion and succession pipelines in the organizations where you have worked. Were they structured with transparent processes and milestones, or was it “advancement by association”? To help organizations define actionable, achievable goals, growth equity centers around three critical components:

1. Benchmarking allows organizations to examine multiple categories of identities and measure how equitably growth opportunities are distributed.

2. Enrollment and selection that move from undefined, informal handshake networks to purposeful, formal processes will help diverse employees gain equal access to the best growth opportunities.

3. Program structure that is defined and purposeful not only enhances high performers but also provides them with purposeful opportunities for visibility within the organization.

Fortunately, there are organizations that are moving forward, as we see through those that are partnering with us on a growth equity council that is creating a blueprint for others to follow. With an increasing number of real-world outcomes, growth equity leadership can be a powerful tool in the corporate landscape to improve diversity outcomes.

It is becoming increasingly clear that organizations can no longer view employees through a one-dimensional lens. The Future of Work is about realizing, nurturing and maximizing potential through trusted partnerships. Although this may require some operational adjustments, it is more about a change in mindset.

Embracing growth equity is critical for organizations that want to foster more collaborative, lasting relationships with employees, especially after the turmoil and looming uncertainties of the past year. Providing support for the physical, emotional and professional well-being of all employees is how organizations build trust, develop leaders at all levels and set themselves up for success, no matter what the workplace of tomorrow brings.