You have just finished making love to your beautiful third wife, who happens to be a 20-year old Sports Illustrated swimsuit model when you feel it. The unmistakable stutter thump of heart palpitations. You break out in a cold sweat, and a bracing pain in your lower left jaw strips you of the ability to even vocalize your agony. Your nubile betrothed makes sure you get to the hospital where it is discovered that, like many 50-year-old men, you need heart bypass surgery. You consent to this life-saving procedure, and as the anesthesiologist is preparing you, your heart surgeon walks in. He is scratching his head and scratching his buttocks. He asks where the scalpel is. He asked what a scalpel is. You inquire as to whether this is the person who will be using a saw to open up your chest. The surgeon smiles at you broadly, a mouth full of gold teeth, as he directs the nurse to turn on loud rap music so that he can concentrate. The last thing you remember hearing is “Where is the heart located again?” as you fade into the ether.
Crazy story, right? Well, let’s leave it for a second. We’ll get back to it; I promise.
Last week, while answering the question: “whom must we support?” I talked about the ways in which a strategic plan helps you to support your explicit diversity and inclusion goals. This week I’m answering the question: “whom must we hire?”
In many ways this is a post about the dreaded and controversial topic of Affirmative Action. Affirmative Action or what is mistakenly called the “quota system,” is more clearly stated as an opportunity for organizations to hire immensely qualified workers, while also broadening the diversity of race, gender, class, ability, and age, but it faces a lot of push back.
There are many people who have written more eloquently than me about the subject of the Affirmative Action. And it is a big topic. A really big topic. So for this brief post, I am going to focus on one facet of Affirmative Action that receives a fairly huge share of the AA criticism:
Removing, revising, or relaxing any part of a hiring or admissions rubric so as to make it easier for diverse applicants to make it through the hiring or admissions process.
This one receives a lot of pushback for three major reasons:
- Many of our coworkers believe the job descriptions, (or admissions guidelines), were written by Moses, who descended from a mountain with them on stone tablets. They don’t realize that every piece of copy in the organization is essentially a draft. All copy can be revised to better reflect the organization’s mission, vision, and goals.
- Some of the coworkers believe that every qualification denotes some sort of integral or special skill, and that if any of those qualifications is tampered with, the quality of the workforce will suffer dramatically.
- There is some sense in the minds of some co-workers that somehow all the other standards are relaxed if one part of a rubric for admission or employment is relaxed.
Here’s what I mean: one might relax the “can lift at least 25 pounds” part of an industrial management job description, because the site foreman probably won’t be lifting anything and this effectively eliminates many applicants with physical disabilities.
This anti-revision group is prone to hyperbole, though. So the example above is barely tolerable to them. They subscribe to what I like to call the “dumb heart surgeon philosophy.”
Now we return to the crazy story from the beginning.
The “dumb surgeon” from the story was allowed to have a slightly lower SAT score in order to gain admissions to the University of Texas. Although this (mythological) student was intellectually inferior, that one break that allowed him entry into University, which was all he needed. He was somehow able to complete pre-med studies, pass the MCAT, get admitted to medical school, finish, complete a rigorous residency, and embark on a life as an incompetent (yet successful) heart surgeon.
And now here you are — a man who’s done the right thing all of his life — having the oxygen mask placed on your face while this doofus asks which tool is the scalpel.
Like I said, crazy, right? Okay, Treasure, you ask, I get it, but what is your point?
I’m glad you asked:) My point is this:
Every organization should look at its admissions/hiring criteria and commit to revising some part of it so as to increase the likelihood of a more diverse applicant pool.
It won’t kill us. No, really. It won’t.
Next Week, I’ll be exploring the question, “With whom must we Collaborate?”
Do comment to tell me about your workplace’s recent hires and hiring process. Also, I’d love to hear from people who are at the beginning stages hiring D & I professionals or just looking for diverse candidates.
PS. I have developed a system for helping parents (like me) of “screenagers ” who are approaching college age write a killer college admissions essay. Click HERE to get a FREE college admissions starter kit. We. Can Do. This.