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What’s the difference between equity and equality?

The terms are often used interchangeably, but Asante’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion committee explains the important difference.


Understanding the difference between the terms “equity” and “equality” is key to many of the diversity and inclusion topics we discuss. Here are some brief definitions of each term, and why we prefer to use one of them when talking about racial outcomes.

Equality: equal sharing and division, keeping everyone at the same level. It gives the same thing to all people, regardless of their needs.

Equity: fair treatment, access, advancement and opportunity for all people. It strives to identify and eliminate barriers that prevent the full participation of some groups or individuals. Promoting equity requires an understanding of the causes of outcome disparities within our society.

How are these terms different?

Equality aims to promote fairness. This is only effective if all participants have similar starting points and the same access to resources for achieving their desired goals. This approach can intentionally disregard the needs of individuals.

Equity, on the other hand, demands that individual needs are taken into consideration. It accounts for identities (race, ethnicity, ability, nationality, gender, etc.) and circumstances that may otherwise hinder the success of one participant over another.

One example of equity is the provision of access ramps that allow people with different physical abilities to more fully engage in society by entering into and exiting from public buildings. Without access ramps, many public opportunities and resources would be inaccessible.

Equity means providing equal opportunity and resources for each individual. And when it comes to justice for everyone, equity asks that we take a step beyond fairness, seeking to dismantle the barriers that get in the way of individual success.

This visual describes the concept. With equality, everybody gets the same, no matter what they started with. With equity, we take into account those inherent privileges that some of us have to give more resources to those who need them.


After the civil unrest in the summer 2020, it became apparent that America — and Asante — must do more to promote social justice and try to eliminate biases. The result was the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion committee.

The team of employees and leaders is working on:

  • Employee engagement (resource groups include champions for populations often marginalized due to their race, ethnicity, ability, gender and sexual orientation or identity)
  • Patient engagement
  • Community outreach
  • Policy management
  • Employee and leadership development
  • Communications

The intent of the work not only is to embrace diversity at Asante, but to recognize our commonalities. If you are interested in the work of equity, diversity and inclusion, email us with your comments and suggestions.

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