Corporate Injustice & The Bell Curve

The following article was written by Sanjay{{1}}, an IT employee, on the ingenious ways corporates devise to exploit its workforce in sectors like IT{{2}}. One of the ways is to divide the employees based on dubious grading scales that sets worker against worker in their desperate and often vain attempts to climb the corporate ladder to reach top positions.


The beauty about living in a community is that everybody who works for it contributes towards its growth and sustenance. While some people may be extraordinarily gifted at what they do, most people have average skills or average intelligence. It is by the efforts of every single person that helps keep the community alive. Every single person thus has and should have an equal standing within it. 

In contrast, the corporations talk about team work and how the employees should take the company to its goals but in its assessment of them, rewards some individuals favourably while many of them are assessed unjustly. In sum, all efforts which had gone to make the profits for the corporation, a large chunk of it comes from the majority, derogatorily classified by them as ‘average‘ or ‘below average‘ employee. 

Now Corporate Governance has a strange notion of justice, wherein without a guilty conscience, they deem it virtuous to tell its employees if they are good or bad for the company. The funny part is, they have a per-determined idea about how many people are going to be poor, average or great for the company. How? Through the ‘Bell Curve‘. This is basically a statistical representation of the abilities of the employees in their respective departments. It assumes, for instance, that 10% of the employees are underachievers, 70% are average contributors and 20% are exceptional performers. No performance metrics here, just plain statistical guesswork.

Common sense justice would dictate that each person be rewarded according to amount he/she has contributed in terms of actual work. Maybe a bonus for brilliant ideas. But the underachievers will have their salaries cut or may even get fired. The majority average usually receives nothing extra or maybe in best case scenarios, a fraction of what they have actually contributed. And the low level workers who were dubbed as top contributors get a pat on their back, maybe a promotion and a pay which is higher than their average colleagues but still not equal to what they deserve. Everyone working in a corporation knows which group gets the most benefits – the bosses obviously! 

This system of grading people gives a false notion that anyone can become a top performer if they worked hard enough. But sadly, the people at the top wouldn’t want to get replaced and are given all the power to judge the people who work under them. They make their own metrics and are free to change these metrics from person to person. The sense of competition which arises out of this system is unhealthy and is precisely what prevents the workforce from uniting.

Just because some people are gifted doesn’t mean to say that the rest should suffer or be disgraced or be treated differently. The reason we see people demanding higher pay packages is because they can see the obscene mismatch between the management and working class. In many cases, the managers do more harm than good to the company but are still paid many times more than the most productive worker.

Appraisals and the bell curve are powerful tools to:

a) Make employees work harder
b) Give excuses to not reward someone for their work
c) Create an obsessive and maniacal sense of competition by limiting the top performers to 10%
d) Making it appear that uniting the workforce would be detrimental for career growth
e) Justify bad decisions/ personal favouritism/ skewed profit sharing/ selfish motives

Let us remind ourselves that:
a) Corporations/ companies exist only for profit
b) The management runs the company and gets the fruits of our labour. They decide what to do with it and what to do with you. Therefore, job security is a myth.
c) Bell curve doesn’t determine who you are. You are much more than what your managers tell you. Appraisals are not meant to be just!



[[1]] name of the writer changed [[1]]
[[2]] Information Technology [[2]]