Workplace Insights: Equality vs Fairness

3 min read

When it comes to equality and fairness, most companies are always torn between which one is better to adopt? From my perspective, it’s best to adopt both at the same time!

The trick is to always assess the company, your team, your own and your subordinate situation especially when it's concerning your subordinate, try to study and empathise with his or her personal situation too. Before going further, let’s understand what these two terms actually mean and if you know the difference.



Equality is defined as the quality of being the same in quantity, value, or status. It is the state of having a balanced social, economic, and political standing among individuals in a society despite differences in race, religion, sex, social and economic status, and culture. It refers to providing every individual the same opportunities to improve his rank or condition in life without expecting that the results would also be equal. It provides the same compensation and benefits to workers or employees with the same job.



On contrary, fairness is defined as the quality of having an unbiased disposition. It is the characteristic of being just to everyone, of treating them without discrimination or partiality. It is the absence of prejudice.

As an employer, ask yourself if you tend to focus on one person and forget the rest?


Double standards?

Avoid showing favouritism toward one employee over another. Doing so can cause the unfavoured employee to resent you. What applies to one employee should apply to all. Do not discriminate based on race, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender or any other quality.


Extrinsic vs Intrinsic rewards

A motivated workforce can be a significant factor in organisational success. When employees are motivated to work at higher levels of productivity, the organisation as a whole runs more efficiently and is more effective at reaching its goals.


Employees who are intrinsically motivated tend to work at higher levels of productivity and strive to develop professionally. Intrinsic rewards include things such as: personal achievement, professional growth, sense of pleasure and accomplishment.


Extrinsic motivation is based on tangible rewards. Moreover, extrinsic motivation is external to the individual and is typically offered by a supervisor or manager who holds all the power in relation to when extrinsic rewards are offered and in what amount. Extrinsic rewards are usually financial in nature, such as a raise in salary, a bonus for reaching some quota or paid time off.


Have you done enough or tried harder?

Recognise and reward each employee for her accomplishments, regardless of where she is on the staff hierarchical structure. Avoid “lording it” over your employees. Instead, treat your employees as equals. Remember that if it were not for the employees, you would not have a job. They need you. You need them. You're a team. It is OK to make a distinction if you are in management. However, your title should not make you superior.


Let them voice up!

Create a work environment in which it is safe for employees to share their opinions. Try implementing a formal process for submitting opinions and suggestions. The process should be confidential and include acknowledgement of receipt and follow up with the employee.


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