Stop Treating People Equally

Here is one of the dumbest quotes I have ever seen.

Treat people equally & don’t use double standards. Peter Moore

One of the biggest mistakes a leader can make is to treat everyone equally.

Equal does not equate to fair.

My grandson has Aspergers syndrome together with sensory processing disorder. He likes to wrap himself up like in a cocoon. He wears hoodies that zip all the way up and cover his face. When he was younger he used to like to sit under his desk in school.

The problem was that the teacher didn’t like this and complained to us one day.

“Eshtonn seems to prefer sitting under his desk” My answer was a simple question. “And?”

“Well he can’t do that.” “Why?”

“Because if I let him then I will have to let the other children do it too” “And?” I asked again.

You see I looked at it this way. This was something that Eshtonn needed right then. If other children also suffered with sensory processing disorder than they may benefit from sitting under their desk. Or, they would try it for a bit, not like it and get back in their desks. Really a win-win from my perspective.

“Well, I have to treat all the children the same.” Now, I wanted to let her know that she had picked the wrong profession but I held my tongue. I wanted to ask her if she thought that the child in a wheelchair was also expected to skip rope in gym class. That would be equal, but no one in their right mind would think it was fair. But again I held my tongue because she needed more of an education than I could provide.

There is nothing as unequal as the equal treatment of unequals.

I NEVER treated my employees equally. We used a different approach and that was to treat everyone fairly, not equally.

Which employee should get a break?: The one who shows up early every day and works late or the one who does the bare minimum to get by? Equal treatment would not allow me to make that decision fairly.

We hired a couple of college students one summer.  John was always on time.  Actually, he would come early and start packing things up.  Near the end of the day he would be dropped back at the office.  Instead of just jumping into his car and leaving, he would come in and find work to do until 5:00pm or later.  He was a hard worker and a self starter.  He got a raise that first summer and we hired him again as soon as he was finished college. I don’t remember what happened to the other student because he didn’t give us as much as John.  And so, he didn’t get a raise and we weren’t waiting for him to graduate.

That is treating people fairly.

Why would any employee give me anything more than the bare minimum if I were to treat them all equally anyway?

In Killers of Dreams, Lilian Smith wrote,

“We in America–and men across the earth–have trapped ourselves with that word equality. Which is inapplicable to the genus man. I wish we would forget it. Stop its use in our country: Let the communists have it. It isn’t fit for men who fling their dreams across the skies. It is fit only for the levelling down of mankind.”

Stop treating people equally and start treating them fairly.


Greg Wood works with organizations that want to Levitate Their Business, Make Profits Appear, and Watch Problems Vanish!
He can be reached by calling 1-877-299-0699 or by email at   See