“At least since the French Revolution, equality has served as one of the leading ideals of the body politic; in this respect, it is at present probably the most controversial of the great social ideals.”1
The notion of equality is much simpler than the reality.
Explore Wikipedia, the Stanford article quoted above, or many other sources on the subject and it becomes clear that equality is much easier to support in concept than to understand or achieve in reality.
Do we mean equality of opportunity, of outcome, of surrounding, of conditions, of access? Should we all be 6 feet tall; have the opportunity to be 6‘ tall; or not be looked upon differently if we are not exactly 6’ tall? The answer is – unfortunately – not always equitable.
Recently, while boarding a flight overseas, the perception of inequality was brought to light. The second group to board was called, and as has become the norm, this group consisted of high mileage flyers. As soon as they started heading for the plane, someone not in this group began loudly complaining “why should these people get to board before I do?”
This question had not been raised (publically at least) when the first group boarded – consisting of families with small children and those “needing more time to board”. But it was now being loudly asked.
Activities that appear to differentiate are less and less tolerated. It is the populist aspect of the notion of equality that makes the topic so popular. (A self-obvious sentence if ever there was one.)
There may be a Janus Moment occurring, not for the seemingly universal support of equality, but for the willingness to voice such support, and to voice dissatisfaction when it is felt to not be occurring.
Coke reacted (to either the desire for increased equality or at the rising voices) by turning a skybox for invited coke guests into a dormitory for coke customers.
Certainly the notion of equality won here, but don’t look too deep at the reality – a smaller percent of the total population will have access to the dormitory than Coke VIPs had originally. It is the “who” that matters, not the how many.
Will this type of equality “stick” or will it be a fad? Some changes in equality have proven foundational – while not completely the norm, domestic partner benefits can now be found at 57% of Fortune 500 companies.
What is certain is that the major contributing factor to the rise in equality is that everyone’s voice is now equally heard. Social media has replaced the complaint letter as the vehicle for those who are unhappy or displeased with how they are being treated – by their airline, government, company, or spouse.
With this rise in diversity of voice, we are deciding more and more how we feel from our friends, colleagues, and digital communities. We are empowered when we see and hear their stories. Add the “digitizing of the complaint letter” to a community of sympathetic listeners and detractors now have as resilient a voice as promoters, as direct a channel for distribution, and can come together with shared issues more quickly.
Experience and event caretakers have been using the promoter side of this powerful social media revolution and monitoring the detractor side to put out fires. It’s likely more will need to change.
The desire of Janus Dialogs is not to adjudicate the appropriateness of any trend, but to bring it to the forefront for consideration by the caretakers for the shared moments in time we call experience marketing.
Questions to ask about your event:
- Are reserved seats at your event still “acceptable”? Faster lines, VIP areas and access?
- Is tiered pricing still considered equitable?
- What might someone feel is inequitable and how can/should you address it?
- Who is out but might be in?
- How might displeasure be displayed? Do you have a way to facilitate such concerns?
What are you hearing about equality?