“Fear of a Black Planet” is the name of a critically acclaimed rap album by American duo, Public Enemy released in 1990. Does anyone remember it? I’ll admit I don’t think I’ve ever listened to Chuck D and Flavor Flav busting their rhymes on this album but the title struck a chord with me recently.
Lately I have been writing a great deal about cultural fit and discrimination in the U.S. hiring process and I want to throw out two facts to you.
Fact #1: According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission the number of discrimination complaints received in 2011 totaled 99,947, their highest in history! Complaints stemming from racial issues led with over 34% of the filings. Disability and age discrimination were the second and third leading issues of complaint respectively. So we see that race is still a huge issue. But let me give you another fact in case you’re not convinced.
Fact #2: Despite blacks making up nearly 13% of the total population they hold the top spot at only six Fortune 500 companies which means only 1% are run by African Americans. Things don’t get much better below the top spot. Blacks account for only 2% of all executives in the next two tiers. So whites make up 72% of the general population but over 90% of CEOs while blacks make up 13% but only 1% of CEOs? Curious. Why is this so?
Do you need more facts or have I begun to paint a clear enough picture? Perhaps seeing the picture isn’t the problem at all but whether you give a darn about it. Here’s an example of the problem to which you can relate which I’ve seen appear numerous times in my inbox. Many people complain about the health care and social security situations here in America but the people who can change these broken systems, Congress, aren’t forced to use these systems. Congress gets free healthcare and a sweet retirement package upon leaving office therefore why should they bother fixing something that does not negatively affect them? So the idea is make Congress use our broken system for a while and then let’s see how fast they move to fix it.
Don’t we as whites view the hiring process in the same fashion that Congress views our healthcare system? I’m white and while I can’t say I stand head and shoulders above my peers in terms of financial success, I haven’t to my knowledge experienced any type of discrimination due to my age, a disability and certainly not for my race. So as the average white person I might see no reason to fix a system that I don’t perceive to be broken. So as long as we’re pulling the strings maybe we’ll continue to follow the old adage, “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”
Yes, I know many people are working very hard to correct these disparities, whites included, but you are in the minority. How does it feel?