Discrimination is here to stay. Yep I said it. The elephant is in the room and we might as well talk about him. He’s called Discrimination and he just used the bathroom behind your desk! Your office represents your hiring process and this behemoth called Discrimination is soiling it daily. You could just tell the elephant to get out but you realize every person involved in your hiring process has brought their own elephant. Some are also named Discrimination while many others are called Bias and Prejudice. You realize there’s no hope in getting rid of them all so you enact laws to protect parts of your organization from your own team’s elephants. Unfortunately the mess soon becomes so great that they invade even the parts protected by your laws.
Can anything be done about discrimination within an organization? Studies show diversity training does not work. Rather it serves to further emphasize the differences between us. Laws? Their mere existence solidifies the fact that we are inherently a discriminatory group. We actually need government enforced regulations to prevent us from discriminating! We love to discriminate and not just against minorities and women! If laws tell us not to discriminate on the basis of color, creed, religion, gender, age, and so on then you can darn sure bet we’ll find something else to discriminate against such as obesity, smoking, tattoos or unattractiveness. Heck studies show we’ll even turn our nose up at the beautiful.
Why do we discriminate?
- We’re afraid – Our misconceptions of other races and cultures shape us into cowardly beings too afraid to take a chance in hiring a perfectly qualified candidate who may be a little different than us.
- We’re jealous – We don’t want to compete with someone who may be smarter or more attractive than us so we eliminate them from contention.
- We’re prideful – We often hire people who are mirror images of us assuming an army of clones will further contribute to our organization’s success. You saw how well that worked for the Empire in Star Wars. Often cloning fosters an environment devoid of creativity with no one present to challenge our decisions.
- We flock together – Over 90% of Fortune 500 CEOs are white. Within the top echelons of these companies blacks account for only 2% of the executives. What assumptions can we make from this data? If 90% of Fortune 500 CEOs were black do you really think blacks would account for only 2% of all executives?
- We’re corporate minded – A corporation’s primary goal is to make money. Spending extra money for the health benefits of a smoker or obese person doesn’t make good sense. Likewise if our profits are built on the backs of the attractive than we have no business with the unsightly. Yes, I realize that sounds ridiculously harsh but honestly don’t you sometimes feel this world belongs to the pretty?
- We’re prejudiced – Stating the obvious here but many of us have been shaped over years by our parent’s prejudicial views and the media’s sometimes negative portrayal of minorities and other ethnicities. These views have subconsciously taken hold in our minds and we eliminate good candidates from contention. A 30 minute interview with a qualified candidate won’t always undermine decades of influence.
- We’re in denial – For all those who have said while reading this article, “That’s not me” then this point is just for you. EEOC lawsuit filings indicate discrimination is still prevalent and rising and more than just a handful of people are responsible. The first step to eliminating the problem as with most is admitting you have one. The sooner you look inward and consider your fears the greater the chance you can combat your own biases.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe equal evidence exists suggesting we’re not as biased as we once were. If someone has some I’d sure like to see it.