The Inevitability of Inequality

It was to be the model of equality in a corporate office. The architect for the new offices was given the charge of designing an office complex that was symbolic of the corporation’s equality initiative. The model that he presented was groundbreaking in its concept.

The design features included:

  • The office complex was designed around circular pods. The setting in a park gave it a campus feel
  • Every office contained the exact same square footage, from the CEO to the lowest level employee
  • All offices were on the second level with parking below each office. No one had to walk more than 50 feet from their parking space to their office
  • Everyone had access to a catalog to select furniture for their office
  • There were no multiple-person offices
  • Every office had windows overlooking the campus
  • Office placement was in clusters. People were placed in offices based on working relationships, not status

As the architect presented his design concepts to the senior leaders, they were accepted enthusiastically. It seemed that equality in design was being achieved. But then the CEO spoke up: “I want this office”, as he pointed to the model. The others were stunned and couldn’t imagine why the CEO wanted that particular office. Then the CEO added: “If you look at the model, this is the only office where others can’t look into it through the windows.”

Is it human nature to create inequalities? If so, why might that be the case? Is it an ego thing? Does it make us seem special? Or could it be more sinister? Are we saying to others, “you don’t deserve what I have”?

Is the quest for general equality doomed as individuals become more creative in the ways they can achieve inequality? We can attempt to legislate equality, but can we ever overcome the intimidation that is still prevalent where we feel like we don’t belong? Intimidation is just another way to practice inequality.

Just imagine what it will take to achieve true equality in our society. There are limits to legislated equality. How might we make the quest for true equality a personal value to everyone (or can we)? Are we perhaps moving into an era of equal but separate?

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“The worst form of inequality is to try to make useful things equal.” – Aristotle

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