Fairness and equity in the workplace forms a key part of limiting conflict and ensuring that employees are provided with an environment that encourages productivity and opportunities.
Unfair working environments are a contributor to toxic work cultures, which in turn leads to increased absenteeism, decreased productivity and a higher employee turnover. Ultimately, fairness and equity is everyone’s duty in the workplace – meaning it is integral that everyone in an organisation is aware of the role that they play in contributing to a safe and fair environment.
What is fairness and equity in the workplace?
Fairness and equity in the workplace means respecting the human rights of each individual who works within the organisation. Employees that feel respected by their organisation are more likely to enjoy their job, reach out to help their colleagues and ultimately produce better work. All of these aspects will help revitalise workplace culture and ensure your organisation is a fulfilling place to work.
Find out more about what is workplace culture here.
What does equity look like in the workplace?
Equity means being fair and impartial. This impartiality and fairness means everyone is given an equal opportunity to succeed in their role, regardless of their ethnicity, race, nationality, religion, socioeconomic status, physical or mental able-bodiedness, age, gender or sexual orientation.
But why is equity important in the workplace rather than equality? Equity functions in a more holistic manner than equality, as the definition of equity addresses the fact that many of us are unaware of the deeper implications of our actions or perspectives. Meanwhile, notions of equality often fail to recognise that everyone requires different levels of support. Managing an older workforce, for example, will demand different necessities to managing a younger workforce. Organisations shouldn’t shy away from meeting specific demands if it means providing individuals with the tools they need to succeed.
As a result of our implicit biases, true equity is only possible when leadership and HR make concerted efforts to analyse the specific needs of each individual within the organisation and ensure any concerns are properly satisfied.
The importance of fairness in the workplace means that the following issues must be approached with a fair and open mindset:
Equal opportunities for advancement
Providing equal opportunities for advancement is key to protecting your employees’ human rights. However, creating equal opportunities for advancement often requires more than just an assumption your interview panel is unbiased. To ensure equal opportunities are provided to all employees, gather data on the current demographics of your organisation or if you’re involved in recruitment, job candidates.
If you are exclusively hiring or promoting people belonging to a certain demographic, then you may need to re-examine the criteria your organisation uses to define an ideal leader or employee.
Fair pay for each role
Employees and managers are unaware that certain demographics of people in their organisation earn less than their peers due to the fact that very few people openly disclose their pay. However, unfair wages are prevalent across Australian businesses, with government statistics showing that over 85% of Australian employers pay men more than women on average.
It’s also important to note that pay equity is about more than just equal wages. It also addresses bonus payments, discretionary pay, superannuation, allowances and performance payments. Organisations should demonstrate that they are committed to providing fair pay by properly valuing skills, responsibilities and working conditions for each role to ensure employees are getting paid what they deserve.
Acceptance of differences
The importance of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) initiatives in supporting company-wide acceptance of differences and managing workplace bullying cannot be overstated. DE&I initiatives provide employees with the tools necessary to re-examine the way they interact with one another and make a concerted effort to treat everyone fairly. Increased awareness of the importance of equality in the workplace will help to create a culture that celebrates diversity.
DE&I initiatives can take many different forms and can include cultural awareness training, the fostering of online dialogue regarding diversity and inclusion, and purposeful team-building exercises. Building an environment that encourages employees to openly engage with one another is an important first step to accepting and celebrating differences amongst your workforce.
Benefits of fairness in the workplace
Why is fairness important in the workplace?
Fairness in the workplace helps to create an environment in which all employees feel safe and engaged in their roles. Such an environment contributes to overall productivity, which will benefit all employees regardless of who they are.
Appreciating the importance of fairness in the workplace means that employers are actively engaging in the following benefits:
Prevent legal headaches
The Fair Work Act 2009 instils all employees with certain workplace rights, including the right to be free from unlawful discrimination and the right to engage in industrial activities. If a workplace contravenes these protections, the Fair Work Ombudsman may become involved through investigatory or disciplinary action. If the Fair Work Ombudsman finds that your organisation has been involved in breaches of civil remedy provisions, you may face serious fines or other penalties.
Increase employee satisfaction
Unfairness in organisational processes and workplace policies can severely impact employee satisfaction. Dissatisfaction amongst employees can culminate in a pervasive sentiment of injustice throughout all levels of an organisation. This can have disastrous consequences on employee engagement, commitment and retention rates. After all, employee satisfaction forms the basis of the work that your organisation produces.
Improve employee performance and productivity
Nobody wants to work in an environment that doesn’t compensate them for their hard work. Employers should demonstrate a commitment to appreciating each employee’s achievements and necessities through ensuring fair pay, implementing flexible policies to support their staff’s needs and fostering a workplace culture that encourages open communication.
Foster diverse and innovative thinking in the organisation
A diverse workforce offers an expansive range of different perspectives and experiences that is impossible to harness in an organisation with limited demographics. Organisations that are privy to varying viewpoints can utilise this knowledge in all areas of their work to foster new and out-of-the-box ideas, products or services. The world is filled with different types of people from all kinds of backgrounds, so having a workforce that represents this diversity will help businesses capture new clients and differentiate themselves from their competitors.
Attract and retain top talent, regardless of who they are
Organisations with diverse and inclusive cultures are more likely to attract and retain top talent. In a world struggling with labour shortages and high employee turnover, attracting suitable long term talent is a prerequisite for driving sustainable growth. Fairness and equity improve overall brand reputation amongst employees and stakeholders, which in turn attracts a larger talent pool for recruitment. As fairness contributes to a workplace where employees feel safe and valued, staff turnover rates will inevitably drop when true equity is achieved within an organisation’s workplace culture.
Build equity into your HR strategy
Addressing equity and fairness can be complex when an organisation is lacking a comprehensive HR strategy. PerformHR has experience in enabling organisations to implement best-practice strategies to support diversity and inclusion within their workplace in a way that is supportive of long-term business growth.
Get in touch with our team today to find out more about how our experts can help your organisation embrace the importance of equality in the workplace.