The paradox of meritocracy in organizations
Managers embedded in performance-based merit systems were more likely to award larger bonuses to men than equally-performing women, according to this study. The research examined how managers might divide bonus money among equally performing employees in both meritocratic and non-meritocratic work environments. It found that In the meritocratic environment, managers gave men more in bonus compensation than their equally qualified female counterparts and the outcome was vice versa in non-meritocratic environments. This work reveals that bias can be triggered by attempts to reduce it, particularly in organizational contexts that emphasize meritocratic values,” wrote the authors. “This paradox of meritocracy is of theoretical relevance because it provides an insight into why gender and racial disparities persist within job titles and work establishments, especially given the recent shift to employer procedures emphasizing merit and pay for performance. Conclusions imply that if not implemented carefully, such efforts may prove unhelpful or even harmful. Not to suggest that the pursuit of meritocracy is futile, only that it may be more difficult than it first appears.