Is Britain As Tolerant As Equality Commission Says?
In the UK the Equality and Human Rights Commission has published a report which has described Britain as "tolerant and open-minded", but it has also highlighted some longstanding inequalities.
The fundamental question seems to be, "What is fair?". And that's not easy.
The dictionary suggests, "treating someone in a way that is right or reasonable, or treating a group of people equally and not allowing personal opinions to influence your judgment."
The flip side is what is unfair and this is where the Equality Commission were able to offer a better suggestion, "an unfair outcome is one which you cannot influence your life outcome despite you talent, effort or ambition."
It seems to be common sense in a modern society that we shouldn't discriminate against men, women, black or white, able or disabled. But there are these barriers in place.
The situation in which you are born will almost certainly influence where you end up.
My working life involves dealing with commercial property leases - and in particular what happens at expiry. Landlords often seek damages from tenants for 'dilapidation' - in other words disrepair.
The most frequent statement I hear from tenants is, "It's not fair." On a moral level I don't disagree - landlords seeking money for premises they already own and what the tenant has paid for!
But there isn't much fairness in the nasty commercial world - much of what we do is based on contract. There is a presumption that the parties know what they are doing - entering the contract with their eyes wide open.
But they don't. People often don't understand the nuances of contract law - especially in property. So should we treat them differently - should we be "right and reasonable" - and what is this. Is it "right and reasonable" for the landlord.
Fairness in society is very different to fairness in business.
But much of business also relies on luck - some of the biggest businesses in the world exist because of a "lucky break." They weren't born into richness. They may have come from a disadvantaged place.
So whilst I agree with us trying to level the playing field, we might just need to accept that it isn't. That life can be unfair. That's how it is...