On fairness

“I think perfect objectivity is an unrealistic goal; fairness, however, is not.”
~ Michael Pollan

Out of all my values, fairness ranks fairly highly: most likely in the top one or two. There is little that frustrates me more than lack of fairness, and in a workplace/societal context it is rife.

Some examples:

Lack of fairness shown by colleagues:

  • Colleagues who turn up late each day, taking long lunch breaks and then leaving the same time as everyone else, only to never catch up on any work from home;
  • Colleagues who blatantly disobey leave request procedures and take leave whenever they wish without peer consultation and without any consideration of work/project demands;
  • Colleagues who are act above and beyond other employees by refusing to do tedious, but necessary, tasks.

Lack of fairness shown by employers:

  • Punishing all employees in reaction to a handful of employees misbehaviours: eg. strictly filtering Internet access because someone accessed something they shouldn’t have, taking away or stripping back employee entitlements for everyone due to misuse by the minority;
  • Continuing to promote employees who aren’t considered leaders amongst their peers;
  • Practicing ‘positive’ discrimination through employment quotas and ignoring other hardships that employees may have faced.

Lack of fairness shown by Governments:

  • Preferential tax treatment of the well-off. An example in Australia is negative gearing, a unique situation where the wealthy are entitled to tax payer subsidies for investment properties whilst ordinary Australians who rent get nothing.

Combating lack of fairness

“Do you truly believe that life is fair, Senor de la Vega?
-No, maestro, but I plan to do everything in my power to make it so.”
~ Isabel Allende, Zorro

What can you do to combat the rampant lack of fairness?

The only thing we can do is model behaviour ourselves that we want to see in the world, so this means striving for fairness in all that you do. It also means calling out lack of fairness. This is particually tricky as it gets a lot of people offside, but in the long run it is well worthwhile.