Posted: 27 Aug. 2021 4 min. read

Equity over Equality - Thoughts on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) on International Lefthanders Day -

Series : Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

*This is an English translation of the D-NNOVATION article issued by Deloitte Tohmatsu Group on August 27, 2021. If there is any discrepancy between the Japanese version and the English translation, the Japanese version shall prevail.


Small inconveniences everywhere?

Which is your dominant hand -right or left? Some of you might be lefthanders -since 10% of the world population is said to be left handers statistically. August 13 is the International Lefthanders Day, which was set to enlighten various manufacturers about “safe tools for everyone, not just right handers”.  

Train gates, scissors, can openers, ladles, computer mouse, music instruments such as guitars, switches for various devices, etc. Many of the things around us are designed to be used by right handers, while they may not even notice. More and more items are available for lefthanders recently but still, they are “specially-designed” which explains enough about “small inconveniences everywhere”.

Equality and Equity

Small inconveniences directly connect to the matter of efficiency. Say, three people get provided exactly the same scissors -while two of them are right handers and one to be a left hander. Yes, they are provided with equal tools but if they are to be right-handed scissors, the left hander will have to work with “small inconveniences”. You may think it is just a small matter but what if this work directly connects to your professional evaluation -obviously the left hander would not feel being equally treated. 

One of the perspectives about “Equality” is to provide exactly the same things -regardless of any individual differences, while “Equity” is to provide appropriate things to achieve the purpose -considering individual differences. In the above episode, providing exactly the same scissors to three of them, will be “Equality” while it will be “Equity” if the left hander gets to have the left-handed scissors. 

Evolution from Diversity & Inclusion

Many of the organizations embrace this concept of “Equity” and empower as” Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) -to ensure the fairness and to conquer the structural inequalities. You may have seen something like these below. 

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Baseball

As you can see, when you think about “Equality” and “Equity”, what it matters is NOT about equal methods or tools, but whether the opportunity, difficulty, and/or burden are fair -in a reflection of the purpose.

In reality, it is not always easy like those pictures but there actually are many systems based on the concept of “Equity”. The more you earn, the more taxes to follow (progressive taxation). Many of the companies in Japan provide flexible working programs especially for those raising children and/or taking care of families, and you may receive the commuting allowance based on the distance of your commute, regardless of your job titles or roles. 

Deloitte Tohmatsu Group is no exception. We provide the supporting scheme considering individual environment and cases with “Equity” perspectives to ensure “Equality” in opportunities as much as possible -such as the special programs for Domestic & Family Violence victims, financial support for babysitter and family care services, particular induction trainings for the returnee members from leaves of absence, extra onboarding and trainings for non-Japanese speaking members etc. 

To leverage “difference” as “strength”

We have mentioned about the inconveniences of lefthanders, but it is a different story if you are a sport player -you may get extra credit/value as a source of strategy and success, for being lefthanders. In another word, “different” and “minor” authenticity leverages as a source of strength. To think about more inclusive society may be to think about how we can apply that perspectives to other “minorities/underrepresented” -such as in gender, sexuality, difference in lifestyle, culture, language, whether having disabilities or not…etc. 

We are ALL different. It is not easy to provide individually customized support in a perfect way, but it does not mean we do not have to think of “Equity” at all. In fact, pursuing “Equity” is imperative because it is extremely difficult to achieve and retain. Deloitte Tohmatsu Group will be evolving our previous “Diversity & Inclusion (D&I)” initiatives to “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)”, by working closely with our various stakeholders. We are determined to progress our efforts and conversations with you all towards the better, with the concept of “Equity” in place.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion initiatives at Deloitte Tohmatsu Group