Fairness. It’s important. We all want the right to the same opportunities at work, no matter where we’re from or who we are. By its very nature, being fair to everyone often means all rules are applied to all people in the same way, regardless of the situation. But can the pursuit of fairness lead us to standardise work to the point where people are no longer treated as individuals?
As an example, imagine a company where all employees receive a personal training budget of £250 per year for their learning and development. The digital marketing executive finds an online course that covers the latest developments in SEO, and it fits into the budget, no problem. But the customer service officer who wants to improve their presenting skills in order to become an account manager needs a face-to-face course which exceeds the budget. Having the same budget for everyone might seem fair, but does it give everyone an equal chance to develop, and does it treat them as individuals? Does it really bring out what they’ve got to offer, or are we putting those people into boxes?