The Inequality Problem
Updated: May 23
It is an old saying and it's true: "nobody knows what they're worth, but they always know what they're worth compared to somebody else."
Employees understand that differences in responsibility and performance will result in different rewards. What they do not understand - and what they appear to be tired of - are undeserved rewards. We thought we were living in a meritocracy, but past and recent events suggest otherwise.
America's uproar over the #CollegeAdmissionsScandal points to deeper and broader issues than simply which kids got into preferred schools. That's not the real reason people are angry at the lady from the Hallmark movies.
People in North America, particularly those who consider themselves middle class, have watched their economic opportunities and relative wealth shrink, while a small number of people have piled-up riches. To see that inequality inflicted on children, denied college placements they may have earned but-for the intervention of bribery, has shocked millions.
This public reaction looks like a kind of economic #metoo moment - a recognition of unfairness and a determination not to tolerate it anymore. And this goes beyond college admissions. Organizations need to think about this too.
People are tired of what they deem unfair inequality. Is your organization fair in the allocation of opportunities, pay and perks? Have you lavished recognition on "stars" while the workhorses toil in obscurity? Is loyalty a two way street, or just "expected"? It happens everywhere, and it's a recipe for bitterness and alienation among the people who really keep your business going.