When I was starting to think about issues that are important to me, I thought equality was an important issue to emphasize.  Then I looked up the difference between 'equality' and 'equity', and I realized that equity is the issue, and that our society is shifting away from equity and towards equality.  

Let's start with some definitions:

Equality: treating everyone the same, regardless of need.  Example: the steps outside of a public building do not actively discriminate against anybody.  One could say that the builder of the steps is treating everyone equally.  But the steps do passively discriminate against certain people, for example: people in wheelchairs, and people who have a hard time climbing steps because of muscle weakness.  Under 'equality', everything is fine.  Under 'equity', we've got problems.

Equity: "Equity means that, in some circumstances, people need to be treated differently in order to provide meaningful equality of opportunity," according to berkeley.edu.  In the example above, equity would require, at a minimum, a ramp suitable for a wheelchair with a slope making it easier for weak people to navigate it. (Even better would be an elevator, but this may be a bit much to ask. )  

The illustrative example above makes it clear that to provide for people from all walks of life, we need to look at equity, not just equality.  We can't just say that the public building is open to everyone, regardless of race, gender, or physical appearance.  We need to think beyond that. 

Equity comes in many different sizes, shapes and colors

There is a push to deny that our country, the United States of America, is racist.  If that is true, then laws protecting "equality" aren't necessary.  But "equality" is not the same thing as "equity".  Life is a relay race.  We take the baton from our parents and we pass it to our children.  Where we "start" in the race is determined by our ancestors...and the conditions they faced.  So the mere, supposed, fact that America is not racist, doesn't mean we get to ignore "diversity, equity and inclusion" (DEI).  We need to consider the past in order to help the people of the present and future.

"But why?" you ask.  "Why should we be concerned about making sure these people who are starting far behind in the relay race of life should 'get a fair shake'?"  Because that's how we end up with a stronger, smarter, more creative population.  Consider:

"Companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely, and those for gender diversity are 15% more likely to perform above the national average financially," according to FDM Group.

"Diversity essentially encourages innovation, which in turn promotes profitability. For instance, businesses like Apple, Google, and Microsoft have prioritized diversity in their workforces and often launch ground-breaking goods and services that appeal to a worldwide clientele," according to linkedin.com.

"Research from Deloitte, Boston Consulting Group, the Harvard Business Review, Forbes and more all show the same thing: more diverse and inclusive companies are more innovative and, therefore, more profitable," according to Forbes.

There is a great deal of research showing that diversity is really beneficial.  But we won't get that diversity if we don't, first, take care of the equity problem.

Reverse Discrimination.  Is it real?

The current, Supreme Court trend is to call 'affirmative action' programs reverse discrimination.  Affirmative Action is meant to address equity issues.  The "old boys' club" is self-perpetuating, and the only way to address it is to break "ties" in qualified candidates by looking at the diversity of the candidates and choosing, if possible, those that expand the "old boys' club" to include women and minorities.  Xenophobia is alive and well, predictably, so we need laws to be sure that it doesn't hold us back as a society.  Things like assigning numbers to applications, or changing the name on the application to sound more Anglo-Saxon can, unfortunately, make a positive difference in whether a person of a minority class or gender is hired.  Until that implicit bias is gone, such laws are not reverse discrimination.  Rather, they help to insure that no discrimination is taking place.