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The Opportunity Gap

Updated: Nov 7, 2022

Every American understands that in the realm of public education, starting way down at the elementary level, there are “good schools” and “bad schools”. Houses cost more in the “good” school districts. Parents with the means will pack up, move away from the city, and commute two hours a day for work just so their kids can go to the “good” school in the suburbs. Private schools charge parents thousands of dollars a year so they can avoid sending their kindergartner to the “bad” public school down the street.

We all know this, and yet the myth of “equal opportunity” in this country persists. The idea that everyone has the same chance at the American Dream and that working hard will lead to success is so pervasive that a recent Kim Kardashian interview in which she advised women to just “work harder” made headlines (and thankfully received a lot of backlash). But I've never met a kid that controlled their environment - where they were born, raised, types of parents, etc., so how can they control their education in the early years? By the time someone is old enough to make decisions about their education, they've already been placed into a bucket, labeled, and in some cases had their futures predetermined by circumstances completely beyond their control. How on earth is that equal opportunity?

Most people are familiar with the concept of the “achievement gap” - the difference in educational achievement between groups of students, especially between students of different races or socioeconomic statuses. But achievement is an outcome, when the actual issue is causation. Fortunately, a better term has been coined to describe the cause of much of the broad, pervasive inequality that exists in our society. The "opportunity gap", as explained by the Close the Gap Foundation, describes the way “uncontrollable factors can contribute to lower rates of success in educational achievement, career prospects, and other life aspirations.” In a recent report by the US Chamber of Commerce, the six key areas in which the opportunity gap exists were identified as: Employment, Education, Entrepreneurship, Criminal Justice, Health, and Wealth.

Here at FIG, we are proud to specialize in addressing opportunity gaps in employment that exist from the entry level hiring process all the way up to the C-Suite. Minor adjustments in business practice and major shifts in attitude can go a long way, and we love to show our clients how, but the opportunity gap starts a long time before an individual applies for their first job. If we as a society don't address these gaps now, we'll be having the same conversations about lack of equity and scrambling to "make good" in another 100 years.

Is your organization ready to do its part in closing the opportunity gap? Give us a call at 800.834.4946 or contact us here.


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