The 10 Lenses: Are You a Meritocratist?

By: | April 21, 2017


“Cream rises to the top.”

Meritocratists believe in the individualist credo: If you have the abilities and work hard enough, you can compete with anyone to make your dreams come true. Meritocratists disapprove of programs that use race, culture, ethnicity, class, gender or any cultural identity dimensions as criteria for an opportunity, believing instead in personal merit.


  • Highest value placed on individual ability and achievement
  • Strong work ethic and high drive to succeed
  • High personal standards and delivery of outstanding results
  • Self-motivated and self-reliant
  • Strong belief in overcoming obstacles
  • Advocate for standards of excellence throughout all institutions and systems e.g. education, commerce & government
  • Success formula: Hard work + Individual initiative + Self-sacrifice = Limitless opportunities in society
  • Eagerness to help others with same ideals, work ethic and determination
  • Will acknowledge and support others’ competencies and accomplishments
  • View themselves as “Guardians of Fairness” ensuring that the success formula is equitably and evenly applied


  • Inability to relate to fellow team members who do not share the same drive, quest for success, or results
  • May be insensitive to and unaware of ways in which the organizational culture and systems create insurmountable barriers for members of certain identity groups
  • Limited consideration for the impact of past discrimination on the success of certain identity groups
  • Strong opposition to “special considerations” in evaluating status and success. Believe that personal achievement and competence are the only criteria
  • Belief that the “playing field” is leveled by individual competition and success, not by adjusting organizational systems
  • Not aware of unconscious or implicit bias
  • Human Resources Implications of the Meritocratist Lens
  • “I will use the organization’s human resources systems to establish objectively based criteria for hiring, development, and promotion, and to hold each person to these criteria. I do not want the organization to make exceptions based on cultural identity, group membership, social status, or societal politics.”

Why do we need the Meritocratist Lens?

In a world filled with cultural fragmentation, conflict and competition and perceived scarce resources, the Meritocratist lens provides an objective perspective that helps us focus on excellence, competition, concrete standards and consistency regarding how human capital resources are selected, developed and deployed.

Legal Implication of the Meritocratists Lens

  • Assuming that a person who has not achieved like the Meritocratist may lead to exclusions of individuals in protected categories that are under- represented in a company’s workforce.
  • Focusing disproportionately on conventional predictors of job performance may ignore valid alternative measures of merit. Apparently, objective standards of measure, such as the number of years in the workforce, or the number of hours logged on the job or the number of trips taken, may underestimate the skills and translatable work experience of some members of the workforce with unique circumstances.

Developmental Goals for the Meritocratist Lens

  • Recognize the impact that stereotypes and biases have on individual achievement.
  • Learn how systemic barriers have compromised individual achievement; use this knowledge to become an advocate for change.
  • Accept the relationship between social identity politics that occur within the society and its relationship between brand acceptance and protection.
  • Consider the potential negative impact on the business (and the brand) if scores of employees inevitably hit glass ceilings.

Learn About the 10 Lenses

Identify The Lenses That Are Operating In Your Organization and Community, Host a Lenses Live Event!