Equity: A Square Deal for Everyone
Last week I discussed the concept of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the workplace. This week I would like to focus more on this concept of Equity—not just in the workplace but across society.
The Square Deal was the name given to President Theodore Roosevelt’s domestic program, which reflected his three major goals: corporate responsibility to citizens, consumer protection and conservation of natural resources. Over the years the Square Deal was applied to his approach to conflict resolution–listening to both labor and management, his attitude of kindly justice between man and man, without regard to what any man’s creed, color, birthplace or social position, and his efforts to equalize the power imbalance between corporations and common people.
At The Fedcap Group, this concept is at the core of our work.
When I think about Equity, when I contemplate “a square deal”, I think about it in terms of aspiration and opportunity.
In the simplest terms, when you believe that achieving a dream is possible…when you believe that you have options and choices, when you are inspired by those around you to aim high, dreams become reality. Do you know that when a child has a savings account, even less than $500, she is 3 times more likely to enroll and 4 times more likely to graduate from college? The very act of just having the savings account inspires a young person to believe that college is possible. And then, college is not just possible, but it is a reality. Too often, bright youth in the child welfare system believe that they have no other option than to go to work directly from high school. They don’t believe college is a choice. Yet they are by every measure as smart and capable as their peers who happened to have the luck of the draw to grow up in a supportive family. When we instill in them the belief that they are capable, when they come to believe that they have a choice about attending college, they can—and do—rewrite the narrative that once told them college wasn’t possible.
So many people come through our doors believing the narrative they have been told about who they are –and about their potential. People told them they were lazy, and they believed it. Others said that they were not going to amount to anything, and they believed it. Others said that they weren’t very smart …and they believed that too. Soon their “brand”, their self-definition, the way that they presented themselves to the world was driven by these words. And the world responded accordingly.
But, if instead, what would happen if we told people how smart they were —and they started to believe it? If we told people how motivated they were, and they started to believe it? If we looked into their eyes and told them that they could accomplish anything they set their mind to, and they started to believe that too? What kind of a world could we together create? This is why our work with youth with disabilities or adults on public assistance is so critical. We don’t want to help young people simply transition to an adult service system—but to college, a job, and a full life in the community. And we want to help those relying on public assistance find employment and the pride of earning a paycheck.
Every day at The Fedcap Group we strive to find ways to help children, youth and adults with barriers to economic well-being, complete their education, obtain training, find employment and secure their pathway to long term self-sufficiency.
We work as hard as possible to help them get a “Square Deal”.