Social equity

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There are multiple definitions of social equity as it is a new term; each industry has seemed to take on a different connotation. The following provides for examples of each connotation.

Sustainable development[edit]

Social equity is the orphaned element of sustainable development. In 1996 the United States President's Council on Sustainable Development defined social equity as "equal opportunity, in a safe and healthy environment." Social equity is the least defined and least understood element of the triad that is sustainable development yet is integral in creating sustainability - balancing economic, environmental and social equity.


Many colleges and universities consider the term social equity as synonymous with social equality. Examples include Shippensburg University, Edinboro University, Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania, Arizona State College of Public Programs, Indiana University of Pennsylvania and North Carolina State University, among others.

Conservation economy[edit]

In terms of conservation, "Social Equity implies fair access to livelihood, education, and resources; full participation in the political and cultural life of the Community; and self-determination in meeting Fundamental Needs. As Martin Luther King observed, "where there is injustice for one, there is injustice for all." Social Equity is the cornerstone of Social Capital, which cannot be maintained for a few at the expense of the many. Increased equity results in decreased spending on prisons, security enforcement, welfare, and social services. It also creates new potential markets."[1] "Social equity includes universal fulfillment of the most fundamental human needs along with broad access to meaningful work, while respecting the enormous range of life circumstances and personal goals which may drive people to seek different kinds of livelihood."[2]

World market media[edit]

Social equity is the perceived value of individual, organization, or brand reputation and following online. This value increases or decreases based on the online buzz and conversations that take place across the various social media channels on the internet which ultimately transcend to the offline world.[3]

Public administration[edit]

The National Academy of Public Administration defines the term as “The fair, just and equitable management of all institutions serving the public directly or by contract; the fair, just and equitable distribution of public services and implementation of public policy; and the commitment to promote fairness, justice, and equity in the formation of public policy.”[4]

In 1968, H. George Frederickson came up with "a theory of social equity and put it forward as the 'third pillar' of public administration."[5] Frederickson was concerned that those in public administration were making the mistake of assuming that citizen A is the same as citizen B; ignoring social and economic conditions. His goal: for social equity to take on the same "status as economy and efficiency as values or principles to which public administration should adhere."[5]

Gender and sexuality[edit]

Recent[when?] administration from U.S. President Barack Obama has shed light on the subject of social equity for members of the LGBT community. LGBTQI is a common abbreviation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex community. From this community, the Obama-Biden administration has appointed more than 170 openly LGBT professionals to work full-time within the executive branch. He has also directed United States Department of Housing and Urban Development to conduct “the first ever national study to determine the level of discrimination experienced by LGBTs in housing”[6] Other LGBT advocacy interest groups, such as the Human Rights Campaign, have also worked hard to gain social equity in marriage and to receive all the benefits that come with marriage. Other references include: Mitchell, Danielle. "Reading Between The Aisles: Same-Sex Marriage As A Conflicted Symbol Of Social Equity." Topic: The Washington & Jefferson College Review 55.(2007): 89-100. Humanities Source. Web.


Within the realm of public administration, racial equality is an important factor. It deals with the idea of “biological equality” of all human races and “social equality for people of different races”. Biological equality is similar to gender equality; it is equality of all sexes no matter what race and supports the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The idea that racial discrimination ever existed in the United States lies with our expectations that it will soon disappear.[7] As we practice racial equality in the realm of public administration, we are heading towards the direction of its disappearance. According to Jeffrey B. Ferguson his article “Freedom, Equality, Race”, Ferguson explains that the people of the United States believe that racial equality will prevail.


In recent years[when?] social equity in regards to religion has seen legal improvements to help and protect all people regardless of religious affiliation or what deity they choose to follow. According to 42 U.S.C. sect. 2000e(j) "Religion is defined as all aspects of religious observance and practice, as well as belief, unless an employer demonstrates that he is unable to responsibly accommodate to an employee's or prospective employee's religious observance or practice without unique hardship to the conduct of the employer's business."[8] This law was enacted to protect employee's that are employed by bosses of another religion, and allow them to observe their particular religious practices and celebrations. On March 3, 2012, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a Title VII discrimination case against Convergys in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. EEOC v. Covergys Corp., (E.D. Mo. 2011).

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Convergys placed an advertisement stating that applicants for a customer service position should be able to work a flexible work schedule and overtime. A Jewish applicant informed the company’s recruiter during an interview that he would not be able to work on the Jewish Sabbath. The recruiter allegedly responded that if applicant could not work Saturdays, the interview was over. The complaint alleged that the company violated the law by refusing to hire the Jewish applicant or other employees based on their refusal to work on Saturdays because of their religious beliefs. The EEOC sought, among other things, injunctive relief to enjoin Convergys from refusing to hire on the basis of religion and denying reasonable religious accommodations to its employees. The EEOC claimed that given the large size of the call center (approximately 500 employees), it would not be impossible to give an employee an alternative work schedule. According to the EEOC, the company violated Title VII by refusing to hire the applicant without even discussing possible accommodations for his religion.

Convergys settled the case by agreeing to pay $15,000 and entering into a two-year consent decree which obligates the company to make sure that its recruiters are trained on religious discrimination. The company must also provide a notice to all future applicants that accommodations may be available for their religious beliefs.

In June 2012, the EEOC filed another religious discrimination complaint against Voss Electric Co. d/b/a Voss Lighting In this case, one of the company’s supervisors listed an employment opportunity for Voss on the Internet board of the First Baptist Church of Broken Arrow. An applicant who heard of the opening through a client who was a member of the church applied for the job. After a successful first interview, the applicant’s name was passed on to the branch manager who communicated with the applicant at length about his religious affiliations and ties to First Baptist Church of Broken Arrow. The branch manager asked the applicant to identify every church he recently attended, where and when the applicant was “saved,” and whether the applicant was willing to come into work early to attend Bible study. The branch manager openly disapproved of the applicant’s (negative) answers, and the position was not offered to him.

As the open position involved no religious duties whatsoever, the EEOC believed that the job was not offered because of the applicant’s religious beliefs and found the company’s decision not to hire the qualified applicant discriminatory. The EEOC is therefore seeking to enjoin the company from refusing to hire on the basis of religion and denying reasonable religious accommodations in addition to monetary damages.[9]


  1. ^ Reliable Prosperity
  2. ^ Reliable Prosperity
  3. ^ World Market Media
  4. ^ National Academy of Public Administration
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^ Wesley, Joan Marshall, Ercilla Dometz Hendrix, and Jasmine N. Williams. "Moving Forward: Advancing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual And Transgender Rights Under The Obama Administration Through Progressive Politics." Race, Gender & Class 18.3/4 (2011): 150-168. SocINDEX with Full Text. Web.
  7. ^
  8. ^ Malone, Michael D., Sandra J. Hartman, and Dinah Payne. "Religion In The Workplace: Disparate Treatment." Labor Law Journal 49.6 (1998): 1099-1105. Legal Source. Web. 1 Dec. 2013.
  9. ^