Skip to McMaster Navigation Skip to Site Navigation Skip to main content
McMaster Logo McMaster logo

Inclusive Excellence and Meritocracy

The Inclusive Excellence Framework

The inclusive excellence framework recognizes meaningful inclusion of diverse peoples and perspectives is vital to stimulating the creativity and innovation needed to achieve the quality of research, teaching, service, and governance that drives academic, educational, and organizational excellence, distinguishing world-class institutions of higher learning.

Foundational to fostering inclusion in higher education is ensuring that all community members experience equal opportunity to access, fully participate, and thrive in the life and work of the university. However, pervasive personally meditated biases and persistent systemic structural and cultural inequities continue to reproduce and reinforce barriers to equal opportunity and inclusion for particular equity-seeking groups who are underrepresented and underutilized in higher education.

Inclusive Excellence and Meritocracy

Meritocracy refers to a system where people’s capacity (intellectual aptitudes and qualities of character) and desire to learn and work in the academy are the only considerations in assessing the quality of or merit in their past accomplishments and their future potential for excellence.

While a commitment to the ideal of meritocracy should remain a foundational higher educational virtue, the inclusive excellence framework acknowledges that not all peoples are on an “equal footing” when it comes to access and inclusion in the academy.

The belief that a pure meritocracy exists, irrespective of social identity and positionality and unrelated to educational and economic prospects, is referred to as the myth of meritocracy.

The inclusive excellence framework represents a paradigm shift away from the myth of meritocracy – it recognizes that it is essential to apply a more expansive equity lens to all institutional policies and practices, in order to account for existing barriers to access and inclusion, thereby not only more successfully attracting but also more accurately assessing excellence among diverse talent pools.