What is meant by equality and diversity?   It’s a phrase that is often heard and used, but what does it actually mean?

If you look up the word ‘equality’ on Encarta, this is what it says:

(i kwóllitee, ee kwóllitee )

(plural e·qual·i·ties)



1.state of being equal: rights, treatment, quantity, or value equal to all others in a specific group full equality under the law.


Another description that you might find elsewhere would be: the quality of being the same in quantity or measure or value or status a state of being essentially equal or equivalent; equally balanced; “on a par with the best”.  

There are many ways of defining equality; the right meaning depends on the context. When talking about equality in the workplace, equality can be explained as “creating a fairer society where everyone can play a part and is allowed the same opportunity to realize their potential.”

“Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth.”
Mahatma Gandhi

What Is Meant By Equality And Diversity?

You can apply the same reasoning as above to the word diversity.

An accepted explanation of diversity is “the differences in values, opinions, cultural views, beliefs, ethnic background, sexuality, skills, knowledge and life experiences of each individual in any group.” Lots of words, but what does it mean?

In plain speech diversity means valuing difference and treating others with respect. Different people have different hopes, beliefs, prospects, and responsibilities. This could be due to the teachings and practices of their faith or the way of thinking that is part of their upbringing.

The truth is we are all different. Treating someone fairly means recognising, respecting our differences and acting accordingly.

As a result of changes in modern society such as migration, the liberation of women, civil rights etc. equality and diversity is becoming an ever increasingly important topic for the community and for business.

find out what is meant by equality and diversity at the personal development cafeAccording to the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development “diversity recognises that people from different backgrounds can bring fresh ideas and perceptions which can make the way work is done more efficient and products and services better.”

The head of Procter & Gamble (A.G. Lafley) said, “Diversity is a key business strategy that enables P&G to be ‘in touch. Diverse organizations will out-think, out-innovate and out-perform a homogeneous organization every single time.”

In other words he recognises the importance of diversity and that addressing the topic would have a positive influence in the business community.

Now it gets interesting. We now have an understanding of both words and what they mean, so how does that change when they are used together?

If you go to Wikipedia the result you get is; “Equality and Diversity is a term used in the United Kingdom to define and champion equality, diversity and human rights as defining values of society. It promotes equality of opportunity for all, giving every individual the chance to achieve their potential, free from prejudice and discrimination.”

So the phrase ‘equality and diversity’ means giving everyone the chance to progress to the best of their ability regardless of race, gender, age, disability or sexual orientation. There are laws that relate specifically to equality and diversity in the workplace.  

Why not try our equality & diversity quiz and see how well you do?

The Equality & Human Rights Commission

The Equality & Human Rights Commission have an excellent website that provides advice and guidance on rights, responsibilities and good practice, based on equality law and human rights.  They also publish equality and diversity workshop reports and operate a helpline.

Many countries have their own laws and practices, our Equality Legislation in the UK  page offers a useful guide to current practices in UK.

Would you like to share your knowledge and experience of equality and diversity with others?  Use our contact form if you would like to add information for your country.