Over the many years of my study of the subject of workplace fairness, I came to reject the often advanced notion that fairness is purely subjective and a matter of individual perspective. I believe fairness can be described using more objective "reasonableness" standards.
My study of workplace fairness began may years ago in law school when I was asked to prepare a paper to submit to the Saskatchewan Government Labour Law Reform Committee. In this paper I advanced the idea that there should be legally entrenched standards for "due process" in the workplace. These standards, I argued, had to exist regardless of whether or not there was a union in the workplace.
For many years after this I studied workplace fairness from the vantage point of a practitioner in workplace conflict management in the energy sector in Ontario. Taking the experience I gained and applying it to earlier hypotheses, I began research on the idea of a "right" to workplace fairness. This culminated in a conference paper called "The Social Right to Workplace Fairness" that I presented to both Osgoode Hall Law School and the Carleton Conference on Conflict Resolution in 2000.
From there as the years went by, my ideas concerning "fairness" and "conflict management" began to merge into a theory that conflict management systems could be measureed for fairness excellence and that such excellence could be achieved in any system. I developed a diagnostic tool that measured fairness in conflict management systems.
Workplace Fairness is defined as the harmony of Justice, Efficiency, Engagement and Resource Sufficiency in Workplace Conflict Management Systems. Each of these four Fairness Quotients: Justice, Efficiency, Engagement, and Resources consist of a number of elements or focuses as listed in the table below. These are the constituent parts of workplace fairness.
I have come to the conclusion that Workplace Fairness is a commodity most sought after by employees, managers and employers. Where a workplace meets the standards of fairness listed above, it will be healthier, happier and more productive.
But this is only part of the reason why we should care about workplace fairness. Underlying the quest for harmony and increased productivity is really a philosophy about how we choose to live our lives. As human beings most of us spend nearly half of our waking adult lives in the workplace. Our work defines us to a great extent.
We are social beings that are partly the product of our own socialization. Workplace structures that are essentially unfair lead to a general sense of unfairness in the workplace. By accepting unfairness in the workplace we condition ourselves and our society to accept unfairness in other aspects of our lives and the lives of others on the planet we share. This may account in some part for our acceptance of unfairness in the world around us.
Therefore, there is a greater need to seek fairness in every aspect of our lives.
It is for this reason, that I believe we must care about workplace fairness.