Formal equality of opportunity aims to ensure a level playing field for all persons. It is about removing legal barriers to access and ensuring fair (procedural) rules for all. Formal equality of opportunity is achieved if, for example, access to educational institutions or the allocation of jobs is equal for all. For the university sector, for example, this means that equal opportunities are achieved in a formal sense if all applicants for a study place are subject to the same requirements as, for example, the university entrance qualification. Formal equality of opportunity does not imply the claim that a level playing field must be reflected in real success for all.
However, formal equality of opportunity does not address the reasons why certain people do not even get into selection procedures. Early discrimination can lead, for example, to children from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds not even entering a grammar school and thus not fulfilling the requirements for admission to a university*.
Substantial equal opportunities (equity), on the other hand, requires an equal distribution of chances of success for all social groups. [Equity] is achieved when, for example, different women and men, e.g. from different ethnic groups or different ages, have a comparable success rate. In this substantial reading, equal opportunities policy cannot be limited to removing barriers to access and creating equal starting conditions for all. It must also open up new opportunities for the disadvantaged to achieve real equality. Supporting measures, such as quota schemes for specific groups, are therefore considered adequate means to actively counter disadvantages of certain groups.[...]
It is therefore a question of implementing effective equity. In order to achieve this goal, [...] favourable regulations to compensate for de facto disadvantages are permissible.*
Equity is therefore about profoundly questioning and changing the circumstances and our views in order to lay the foundation for a corporate culture in which all people can contribute with their full potential. This is the more difficult and protracted way. I would like to walk it with you, because only in this way can change actually take place and have a lasting positive effect on people and corporate cultures.