Published June 13, 2023
Blog Archive

Navigating Perception: The Challenge of Equity in Leadership


In our leadership journeys, one of the most formidable challenges we face is the realization that the perception others have of us is beyond our control. However, despite this fact, we still bear the responsibility of working towards a vision that not only appears equitable but genuinely fosters fairness. In the realm of leadership, the concept of equity theory comes into play, as it deals with how others perceive what is fair. As we reflect on our own experiences and examine the lens through which fairness is perceived, it becomes clear that our duty as leaders lies in creating transparency, understanding, and fairness within our organizations.

Fairness: A Shifting Perspective

Think back to your childhood or consider the mindset you had in earlier stages of life. What did fairness mean to you? As egocentric individuals, especially in our formative years, fairness is often seen as that which benefits us the most. This perspective changes as we mature, but for employees, new team members, recent graduates, and those earlier in their careers, perception plays a significant role in shaping their understanding of fairness. As leaders, it is crucial to recognize this and strive to create a clear and transparent framework for access to resources, pay changes, and promotion opportunities.

The Importance of Transparency

Equity is a delicate balance, and how it is perceived can vary greatly among individuals. To avoid the pitfalls of subjective interpretation, it is our responsibility as leaders to establish transparency within our organizations. When we fail to communicate how we measure equity, people will naturally fill in the gaps with their own narratives, based on their personal experiences. Each individual brings a multitude of experiences that shape their lens of equity and fairness. By providing a transparent framework, we can guide these perceptions and align them with our intended goals.

Creating a Safe Space for Dialogue

When someone raises concerns about fairness, it is essential to pause and actively listen. As leaders, we must create an environment where individuals feel safe to express their thoughts and emotions without fear of judgment or retribution. Navigating these conversations in a considerate and empathetic manner allows us to understand the root causes of perceived inequities and work towards resolutions. By fostering open dialogue, we can bridge the gap between perception and reality, fostering a more inclusive and equitable work environment.


Recognizing the impact of perception on fairness is a vital step in our leadership journey. While we cannot control how others perceive us, we can take action to shape their perceptions through transparency, understanding, and active listening. By establishing clear frameworks and providing access to resources, pay changes, and promotion opportunities, we can create a sense of equity that aligns with our organizational values. Remember, we are dealing with individuals who bring their unique experiences into their perception of fairness. As leaders, it is our duty to navigate these perceptions and foster an environment where everyone feels heard and valued. By doing so, we create a space where equity thrives, benefiting both individuals and the organization as a whole.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post and feel free to check out our short video on the topic:

YouTube video

If you have any thoughts or feedback, feel free to reach out to me via social media. Have a great day!

Kristine Medyanik

Dr. Kristine Medyanik has been teaching business and psychology classes, for many years. She started Shattered Glass Leadship to offer boutique-style workshops that provide expert content to “level up” your daily leadership practice. She has an amazing husband and 3 growing boys and works hard to support local women-owned small businesses.