“All…people ask for just the same thing, fairness, and fairness only. This, so far as is in my power, they, and all others, shall have” – Abraham Lincoln
When one looks at it, the term ‘fairness’ has been at the epicentre of some of the world’s key historical moments that span through the decades to the present day. Defined as ’the quality of being equitable or just’, a core issue fairness has to deal with is the apparent limitation of human experience to adequately ‘dispense’ fairness to others. This is not to suggest that we are unable or incompetent to be real ‘dispensers’ of fairness. It is rather to recognise that given the complexities of ‘difference’ and ‘sameness’ that are played out in the reality of each individual, being able to positively manage difference is an indispensable quality for adequately ‘dispensing’ fairness.
Positively managing difference is not rocket science. It is simply about recognising individuality. It means being capable and being predisposed to understanding people’s similarities as well as their differences as a matter of normalcy. A bit like holding a coin and recognising that though it has two different sides, it is still one and the same coin. Continue reading
David Cameron stepped into the issue of Executive Pay last week on the Andrew Marr Show, and the topic has once again graced the media airwaves. Frustrated at what he called ‘excessive executive salaries’, Cameron argued that his concerns were not so much that Directors within the FTSE 100 earned what they did, but that they earned what they did despite clear corporate market failure. Here are some statistics: between 2008 and the end of 2011, a period of deep economic downturn, figures suggest that whilst pay for the average worker either fell sharply or at best flat-lined, that of Board Directors almost doubled, going up by 49%. Indeed, further evidence suggests that pay rises were born more out of the somewhat accepted state of affairs whereby fellow Board Directors simply rubber-stamped each others inflated s alaries or what is termed ‘Merry-go-round capitalism’ based on a cronyism of ‘old boys’ networks. Of course, this is all to be understood within the backdrop of the fact that executive pay in the UK over the last 20 years has gone up 8 times, the highest in the world, even more than America
The intention here, however, is not actually to directly castigate the practices described above – am sure this has been done several times over. Rather, I actually want to highlight the implications of such practices showing how they negatively impact the very fabric of business ethics. David Cameron used two very interesting words in this regard which rang true to me: ‘Transparency’ and ‘Fairness’. I add a third, ‘Inclusivity’. Continue reading