The previous post on meritocracy highlighted some of the limitations that a merit-based system brings. Merit is often loosely defined, and inherently devalues many skills and social groups due to bias and a focus on quality over other parameters. Therefore, the need for workplaces and organizations to embrace the concept of equity, along with meritocracy.
Equity acknowledges that everyone has a different starting point in life. By adopting this concept, you can create a healthier workspace and build a stronger workforce with more diverse ideas. Here are some ways in which you could introduce equity into the workings of your organization:
· Focus on training. The different new hires in your team might start with different skill sets. Some may be less familiar with the software used within the team than the others, but still have the potential to become great assets to the organization. A mandatory training period for all new hires can get them up to speed on company culture and work-related tools, thus creating the same opportunities for all of them to contribute. Studies have shown a 50.1% improvement rate in employee performance after training!
To build further on the impact of training, include and measure improvement as a criterion in appraisals. If an employee starts on a lower knowledge base but learns fast, a positive appraisal can encourage such a person to advance even further within the organization, thus widening the ambit of recognition and meritocracy at the workplace.
· Allow different types of skills and intelligence to shine. Employees’ skill sets often include skills that are not directly related to their roles. Such skills may go undervalued in a conventional merit-based structure. Create opportunities to utilize such talents at work, providing a fair chance for people with different forms of intelligence and skills to excel. For example, an engineer with a passion for design can help the design team with tech-related graphics, bringing together knowledge from various disciplines. By tapping into such skills, the company doesn’t just promote more opportunities for all, it also develops an enthusiastic and capable workforce.
· Improve awareness about bias. Meritocratic systems frequently ignore human bias, which can cloud judgment of merit. Helping employees become aware of underlying biases that influence their decisions can ensure more objective decision making. An interviewer’s priority, as an example, is ensuring that the candidate’s knowledge and ability to learn are up to the mark; this verdict shouldn’t be impacted by the candidate’s ethnic background or the name of the college she graduates from.
Tempering meritocracy with equity creates a level playing field and mitigates some societal factors that limit the workings of an exclusively meritocratic system. It’s a great way to provide people what they need to access the same opportunities and then let their capabilities and performance lead the way.