Equity and Equality for Recruitment and Retention?
How can we be mindful of equity and equality as leaders?
What is the difference between the two and how can we develop our existing practice, in view of DEI (Disability Equality & Inclusion) considerations, to remove potential barriers so we can retain talent and support recruitment practices?
In this blog I explore three equity-driven strategies that are easy 'small wins' to implement into your leadership practice, which may support longer term 'bigger wins' in terms of retaining and attracting new talent in the current challenging climate of school staffing.
'Equality is giving everyone the same pair of shoes. Equity is making sure that each pair of shoes fits'. (Author Unknown)
At a working definition level, 'equality' is offering everyone the same resources and opportunities. However, 'equity' delves a little further and recognises that each person has different circumstances, so we should aim to allocate resources or opportunities accordingly to allow everyone to reach equal outcomes. In others, we 'level the playing field', rather than simply making the same offer to everyone and then feeling frustrated as to why some colleagues have excelled and yet others are not thriving or have chosen to move on despite our best efforts.
Unconsciously, at a tacit level, we are often instinctively drawn to people who remind us the most of ourselves. This matters significantly and can be a real hindrance to diversity and equity practices. If we get this right as leaders and support fair policies, programmes, practice, and situations then the rewards are that we become more innovative as a school, and this may lead to attracting and retaining the best talent.
Let's now explore how realistic equity is to implement in practice.
After all, it is easier said than done in a busy working school year with competing priorities. We are often constrained by financial budget challenges, and how to actually go about enthusing people with opportunities and support them with limited resources.
There are three strategies that can be implemented immediately and over the short and long term in your planning as a school leader.
Measure specifically who each type of opportunity is distributed to across different groups in your organisation.
It is worth actively recording and benchmarking which groups are taking up which types of opportunities, thereby uncovering any patterns in disparities, with some groups being highlighted as anomalies. In encouraging those who are not participating, it will help to uncover new ideas and ways of doing things which may not have been considered by those who are always keen to take up opportunities. It will also help to highlight those issues that are affecting different groups that may potentially be resolved before they become bigger issues.
How do you seek out multiple opinions of diverse groups in your organisation?
If we are totally honest with ourselves, we are usually exposed to the opinions of those who provide them regularly, often without us having to ask. Once you have explored and benchmarked those groups who are not a regular 'voice', it is easier to plan and seek out informal opportunities to keep them on the 'informal' radar of decision makers. This is easier to support once we know who our specific target group of colleagues are.
Do you offer any 'stretch opportunities' to colleagues who may not otherwise seek them?
Consider where you allow opportunities for colleagues to demonstrate skills they may not normally get the opportunity to showcase in their current role. This allows them to develop and be considered for advancement. For example, starting a leadership meeting, researching some solutions for an issue, taking the lead in staff presentation for something they excel in, contacting colleagues in another school to link up for collaboration, or starting up a 'working group' in an area that needs development.
As leaders we know all too well that we must embrace change or be left behind.
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