Saturday, October 14, 2006

Focus on Access: One of the 8 measures of Justice

Earlier I promised that I would thoroughly explain each of the 25 measures of workplace fairness. According to my theory, fairness can be both measured and achieved in conflict management systems. In our last installment I generally discussed the notion of Justice as one of the four pillars of Fairness. Now I will focus in on the first of 8 components of Justice: Access.

In Workplaces That Work, I state rather boldly that for a fairness system to properly work, access for all workplace participants must be a right not a privilege. Where membership is tentatively bestowed and withdrawn at the discretion of a superior, an participants are defenseless. Limiting Access to the conflict management system creates unequal classes of workplace participants. This in turn leads to discredit the whole system as cynicism overwhelms to purpose having the system in the first place.

While it is relatively easy to understand the need for unlimited access to a conflict management system, achieving complete access can be very challenging. In gauging the Access Focus, then, it is important to consider what steps are taken to make the system accessible to as many workplace participants as possible. This will be a challenge for many workplaces. There is a temptation to make distinctions between workplace actors. For example, a conflict management system may include the engineers and other professionals but exclude management actors. Without access to the fairness system management actors would have no place to go to resolve their conflicts.

There may in fact be a different fairness system for different workplace participants. This is acceptable so long as each fairness system secures access to the intended participants and all participants are covered by one system or another. This will be problematic, however, where one fairness system is demonstrably more provident than the other. This will engender cynicism about workplace fairness as some participants feel they are treated as second-class.Participants generally fear that raising an issue will harm their careers, and might even engender reprisals. Therefore access to the system should have multiple entry points with more confidential and interest-based options where desired. This is important when considering the mind-set of people in crisis. They need access to a system that will help them manage the conflict in their own way.

In the next installment, I will discuss the Applicability focus of Justice as it relates to the Theory of Workplace Fairness.

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