Meritocracy and the complex Diversity & Inclusion issues surrounding it

Some time ago I found The Post-Meritocracy Manifesto, on the role of meritocracy on (open-source) software development, but also a concept that plays a role across the entire workforce. I was new to the concept, but very interested to learn more. I created the Dutch translation of the manifest.

I also added the site to the Awesome Humane Technology list, but later came upon the Issue tracker of the corresponding Github project and found - to my surprise - some real offensive, aggressive issues. This kind of thing is very rare on Github.

So I responded to an issue, and got into a real interesting discussion the merits and problems of meritocracy. Fine and well. But today there was another comment, with examples of how deep the controversies really go.

That made me decide that this should be a topic for the Humane Tech Community, to be addressed in future discussions and projects. Here is my response to the comment:

Great, that you bring that to attention! I’ll not take any opinion or side on all of this, but it saddens me to see all the anger and frustration, and - probably - misunderstandings. The issues underlying all of this are complex.

I am, however, convinced that technology, and the way it alters human communication, plays a large role in the severity and tone of these discussions. That is very much a Humane Tech subject of interest, and I will bring it to the attention of our community.

An interesting statement by Mozilla regarding Meritocracy, led me to reach out to Larissa Shapiro - Head of Global Diversity and Inclusion at Mozilla.

This is the blog post I was referring to:

The whole topic of Meritocracy and controversies surrounding it, obviously warrant further investigation and approaches to bring solutions.

The Guardian just posted a good article on thing that are wrong with current Meritocracy. An interesting read that includes what meritocracy is, and how it came about and evolved over the years.

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Thought this Fast Company article, published a few days ago, was pretty thorough in its analysis of meritocracy.

[I]n addition to legitimation, meritocracy also offers flattery. Where success is determined by merit, each win can be viewed as a reflection of one’s own virtue and worth. Meritocracy is the most self-congratulatory of distribution principles. Its ideological alchemy transmutes property into praise, material inequality into personal superiority. It licenses the rich and powerful to view themselves as productive geniuses. While this effect is most spectacular among the elite, nearly any accomplishment can be viewed through meritocratic eyes. Graduating from high school, artistic success, or simply having money can all be seen as evidence of talent and effort. By the same token, worldly failures becomes signs of personal defects, providing a reason why those at the bottom of the social hierarchy deserve to remain there.…

Despite the moral assurance and personal flattery that meritocracy offers to the successful, it ought to be abandoned both as a belief about how the world works and as a general social ideal. It’s false, and believing in it encourages selfishness, discrimination, and indifference to the plight of the unfortunate.