Readers may be wondering why the term “equality” is used instead of “equity” for the title of this report. This choice was not made without great consideration. Although the two terms are similar and sometimes used interchangeably, they represent different concepts.
In the simplest of terms, “equality” refers to a state in which everyone is treated equally, and everyone has access to the same opportunities. Equality would be achieved when everyone receives equal amounts of goods and services, or everyone is offered the same opportunity to do something. The problem with equality is that it doesn’t take into account the fact that different individuals need different amounts and types of goods and services, and different levels of opportunity based on individual abilities and circumstances, in order to make equal outcomes even possible. Having equal resources and equal opportunities does not equate to fairness.
“Equity” refers to a state in which every person receives the amount of goods, services, or supports that they specifically require to accomplish a particular outcome. Equity is achieved not when everyone receives an equal amount of something but rather when every individual receives the right amount based on their specific circumstances. Having equitable resources and equitable opportunities does equate to fairness.
Achieving equity for all is a goal towards which Tulsa is striving. However, the scope of this report does not make possible the depth of analysis necessary to fully assess the levels of equity or inequity present for various groups of Tulsans. Rather, this report is intended to provide an assessment of equality among Tulsans, which is necessary to develop equitable solutions and achieve equity for all.
In an effort to be more mindful of limitations of showing individual-level disparity data, we have added a greater level of context in the narrative of this year’s Tulsa Equality Indicators report about the impact of factors that act as structural and institutional barriers to successful outcomes. These discussions are by no means comprehensive in their analyses of past and present systemic forces weighing on individuals’ access to opportunities and outcomes, but hopefully they shed some light on the existence and persistence of such forces.