Monday, June 16, 2008

Vertical and Horizontal Equality

In Edward Lotterman's column yesterday he talked about government issued benefits in the context of vertical and horizontal equality. Though he said that entry level psychology and economic students cover them in detail, in all my years in college (11.5 years and counting), I've never studied the two concepts.

Vertical equality is where equals are treated equally. For example, at my company all managers are part of the Manager Inceptive Program (MIP). Both good and bad managers are rewarded a MIP bonus, based on a percentage of their salary. In HR's mind, all managers are "equal," in terms of their position in the corporate hierarchy. And thus are treated equally. However, Lead Software Engineers (a category I find myself in) do not qualify for the MIP and are treated unequal.

Horizontal equality is where all unequals are treated equally. An example of horizontal equality is tuition reimbursement. At my company, engineers, senior engineers, lead engineers, managers, directors, etc all qualify for help with tuition. In this case, all unequals are treated equally.

Both concepts are fair in my mind. There are some benefits that everyone should get. There are others though, that only equals should receive.

No comments: