Does the Meritocracy Actually Exist?
According to an article by Leah Eichler, studies are showing that the meritocracy is a myth—and that businesses that actively promote it may even be more biased than those that don’t.
Biases are more deeply ingrained than we might think:
- In one study, physics students judged the competence of a person giving a lecture—half saw a female deliver the lecture, the other half saw a male. The male was judged to be more competent, despite the fact that both gave the identical lecture.
“Studies on cognitive bias have found that in contexts where individuals are lead to feel unbiased, fair, or objective, they are more likely to then behave in biased ways.” — Professor Emilio J. Castilla, MIT
Paradoxically, scholarship shows that managers in organizations that emphasize meritocracy tend to favor men.
A study conducted by Professor Emilio J. Castilla found that men in merit-based environments received higher bonuses than women, even when they had identical performance evaluations. Yet that bias was not found in organizations that did not emphasize merit.
“My work serves a cautionary lesson about potential unintended adverse efforts to reward merit in the workplace.” — Professor Emilio J. Castilla, MIT
How Can a Company Make Its ‘Meritocracy’ More Merit-Based?
- Create organizational structures and practices that increase transparency and accountability
- Limit discretion for managers to exert strong influence in deciding on bonuses
Read the full article here
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