In this blog, Lacey Pitcher RVN, member of the DIWP (Diversity, Inclusion and widening participation working group) discusses the difference between equality and equity. While the two terms are often used interchangeably, is it time to be more mindful of the words we use?

While many more conversations are being raised about equity and equality in society today, the words are frequently used interchangeably, but is this really ok?

Let’s start with equality 

Equality refers to the understanding that regardless of race, gender, age or religion, for example, every person should have the same opportunity and support and be treated fairly.

In the 1970s, several laws were passed in the UK to tackle discriminatory behaviour and long held biases these include Sex Discrimination Act 1975.

In 2010 the equality act was passed to include 9 protected characteristics which are:

  1. Age
  2. Disability
  3. Gender reassignment
  4. Marriage and civil partnership
  5. Pregnancy and maternity
  6. Race
  7. Religion or belief
  8. Sex
  9. Sexual orientation

Protecting characteristics was aimed at removing barriers and challenging discriminatory behaviour experienced by many. While the equality act aimed to tackle discrimination, it doesn’t consider how people start from different points, with unique needs and varying levels of support, which brings us to equity.


Equity is the understanding that differing levels of support may be needed to allow and equal starting point. This often applies to minority groups and quite simply; equity means levelling the playing field. Without equity there can be no true equality.

While equity is a very broad topic and can feel like a huge undertaking, but we need to start somewhere. Not tackling a task because it feels overwhelming should not be a reason to avoid action. As part of the VN Futures DWIP (Diversity, Inclusivity and Widening Participation) Working Group, our mission is to encourage and support Equity, Diversity, and inclusion, so we have decided to start with improving accessibility for those who are deaf or hard of hearing.

While veterinary nursing is a brilliantly varied role, we must improve diversity of those looking to pursue a career in the profession. It is important that we strive for equity and showcase what a great career it can be for those who may be hard of hearing or deaf. There are many adaptations and aids at our fingertips and technology is improving all the time, which can help enable access the profession and further study. Incredible role models such as former BVNA council member Bertie Holgate RVN, has shown that deaf veterinary nurses can have wonderful and inspiring careers. Bertie’s impact on animal welfare whilst working in the charity sector has been immeasurable, he has also been a mentor, manager, and lecturer (to name just a few roles!).

Providing equity within the job role can help pave the way for other talented veterinary nurses like Bertie and DIWP and BVNA Council member Macauly Gatenby RVN.

So, as allies what can we do to improve equity? We can consider:

  1. Access to aids
  2. Access to CPD
  3. Considerate communication
  4. Role models

Yet, while all the above points are vital perhaps the most important thing in an EDI conversation that an ally gives the space and a platform to those we are indeed trying to support. Allyship isn’t about talking for someone, it’s about conversation and support WITH someone/a group/a marginalised community and creating space to share experiences.

I am not hard of hearing or deaf, but I do want to learn how I can do better to help those that are. With that in mind, the next DIWP blog will be written by my BVNA Council and VN Futures DIWP colleague Macauly Gatenby RVN.