INside Track: The Fairness Fallacy

One of the most oft encountered responses, be it from Facilities, IT, HR or Finance, to requests to meet an in-house department’s special needs is “It wouldn’t be fair to the other departments – why should you be afforded special treatment?” Whether the ask is for more bandwidth, a more open collaborative workspace, more flexibility in working with outside vendors or whatever else it is that would clearly make you and your team more effective and efficient, the cookie cutter “fairness” answer will almost always be thrown back at you.

Well here’s a little tip – the interpretation that fairness means, “to each should be given the same” is patently incorrect. The true meaning of fairness is “to each according to his or her needs”. So, if the fact that your files are inherently bigger than those of Purchasing necessitating a T1 line or your varied projects require that you work with a large number of photographers (the 3 vendor limit be damned) because you not only create catalogues but annual reports as well, the fairness doctrine enthusiastically endorses your request. Your needs are different than your peers and what you are provided by your company should take those needs into account. Anything else would be, well, just plain unfair.