Merit is often touted as a fair and just way to determine success and reward individuals for their achievements. However, the question of whether merit is cruelty-free has been a topic of debate in recent years.

The concept of merit raises ethical concerns because it can lead to a system that prioritizes individual success over collective well-being. The idea of merit is deeply ingrained in our society, and it is often used as a justification for rewarding individuals for their hard work and achievements.

Meritocracy is a system that rewards individuals based on their abilities and accomplishments, regardless of their social background or connections. However, the pursuit of merit can also lead to a ruthless and competitive environment that values success at any cost, even if it means sacrificing the well-being of others.

In this article, we will critically examine the concept of merit and its potential for cruelty, and we will explore alternative approaches to merit that prioritize compassion and fairness.

The Concept of Merit

The concept of merit, which is often defined as the quality of being particularly good or worthy, is a multifaceted construct that has been subjected to numerous debates and varying interpretations in academic literature.

Merit is often contrasted with the notion of privilege, which refers to the advantages that individuals have based on their social status, race, gender, or other factors that are beyond their control.

While meritocracy advocates for a system where rewards are based on one’s ability and effort, the pursuit of meritocracy can sometimes perpetuate inequality and discrimination.

The tension between merit and privilege is not new, and scholars have long debated the merits of meritocracy versus equality.

While merit is often seen as a desirable trait, it is important to recognize that the concept of merit is not immune to biases and systemic injustices.

As such, the pursuit of merit should be accompanied by a critical examination of the social, cultural, and economic factors that shape merit-based systems.

The Relationship Between Merit and Cruelty

Interrogating the ethical practices of a brand involves scrutinizing the company’s policies and processes, particularly in relation to the concept of merit and its potential impact on marginalized communities.

While meritocracy is often touted as a fair and just system, the reality is that it can perpetuate inequality and cruelty.

For example, if a company only hires employees based on merit, it may overlook qualified candidates who belong to marginalized communities, such as women or people of color, who may have had fewer opportunities to gain the same experiences or qualifications as their privileged counterparts.

Additionally, a focus on merit can lead to a culture of competition and cutthroat behavior, where employees are pitted against each other to prove their worthiness, which can result in a toxic work environment.

Therefore, it is crucial for companies to critically examine their use of merit and ensure that it does not perpetuate cruelty or harm to marginalized communities.

Alternative Approaches to Merit

Examining alternative methods of evaluating job candidates can provide a more inclusive and equitable approach to hiring. The traditional meritocracy approach solely focuses on individual achievement and disregards the systemic barriers that certain groups face. This can perpetuate inequalities and exclude marginalized individuals from opportunities.

Alternative approaches, such as using a fairness framework, take into account not only individual achievements but also the circumstances in which they were achieved. Another approach is incorporating intersectionality, which recognizes the ways in which identities intersect and affect one’s experiences and opportunities. This can lead to a more diverse and representative workforce.

Overall, it is important to challenge the notion that merit is the only factor in hiring and to consider alternative approaches that prioritize fairness and inclusivity.


The concept of merit has been a topic of discussion and debate for centuries. The idea that individuals should be rewarded based on their skills, abilities, and accomplishments is deeply ingrained in many cultures. However, the relationship between merit and cruelty is often overlooked.

The pursuit of merit can lead to a ruthless and competitive environment, where individuals are pitted against each other, and those who fall short are deemed unworthy. Alternative approaches to merit, such as collaboration and compassion, may provide a more humane and sustainable way of recognizing and rewarding individuals.

The pursuit of merit is not inherently cruel, but the way in which it is pursued can be. The emphasis on individual achievement can sometimes lead to a disregard for the well-being of others and the environment. However, by shifting the focus from individual achievement to collaboration and compassion, we can create a more equitable and just society.

By recognizing the interconnectedness of all beings and the environment, we can create a system that rewards not only individual achievement but also cooperation and care for others. In conclusion, the concept of merit is complex and multifaceted. While it can be a motivating force for individuals to strive for excellence, the pursuit of merit must be tempered with compassion and ethical considerations.

By embracing alternative approaches to merit, such as collaboration and compassion, we can create a society that is not only successful but also sustainable and just. It is time to re-examine the relationship between merit and cruelty and work towards a more compassionate and ethical approach to recognizing and rewarding individuals.