The Balance Between Fairness And Meritocracy In Social Groups
…if fairness means everyone is treated the same.
Three months ago, Dan Price announced he was raising the minimum wage for his employees to $70k. That bumped up the salary for a lot of people in the company.
Can you guess what happened next?
Those already making $70k began to quit.
They weren’t making any less, others just began making more. Those already on $70k+ felt that was unfair. It no longer reflected their level of skill or history of hard work at the company.
Whether this is fair depends a lot on your version of what system you believe in.
If your version of meritocracy is working for you, you believe in meritocracy. You believe the people that have been there the longest, visit the most often, make the best contributions (as defined by you), make the most contributions, work the longest hours should be treated better (or paid more). That usually means the best/longest-term members get the best treatment.
Even within the above are 5+ possible systems for assessing the ‘merit‘ within ‘meritocracy’, each of which could be considered fair/unfair.
There’s a problem here. If you treat the elite far better than the rest, the rest will probably vanish. However, if you treat everyone the same, what incentive is there to contribute better/longer/more?
I don’t have a single good solution to this problem other than to highlight it is a problem we should proactively consider tackling. You can treat better members better to a certain extent. You can treat everyone more equal to an extent too. The challenge is figuring out which direction you’re heading in and where that ‘extent’ is for your group.