Diversity: Is Hiring For Diversity Discrimination?

We’ve all heard about more people hiring for diversity – more women, more people of different race or colour, more minorities. It’s not that we don’t agree with it – in fact if done in the correct way it’s great, however wouldn’t hiring for diversity mean considering everyone?

When companies start talking about diverse hiring they usually embark on what could reasonably be called positive discrimination – ignoring people who would be the perfect fit for the company and position because they aren’t a minority that the company is looking to hire.

Deciding to start a recruiting campaign focused on women, sexual orientation, black or Asian – or indeed whatever ‘section’ or ‘minority’ or age group of the population you care to mention is simply discriminatory – you are saying ‘we want to hire people of a certain XYZ – rather than saying we want to hire the best people for the job.

It’s nonsense to say you want 50% of your enterprise sales team to be women if <10% of the enterprise sales people in Europe are women. Imagine if someone decided to stipulate that they only wanted to hire ‘white men aged between 35 and 40’ – someone would be being sued and possibly looking at going to jail!!!

The truth is, hiring for diversity shouldn’t be about what colour skin you have or what gender you are – it’s all about the way of thinking.  You can only truly obtain company diversity if you have diverse thinkers within your company that think differently from one another making it a great environment to work in. Bringing in people who have different priorities, experiences, skills and mindsets is a great idea – maybe you need to look further afield than your own back yard to recruit them, but to stipulate that they must be from a specific culture, sexual orientation or race sure is discrimination?

Of course, there is unconscious discrimination in some companies for example, a famous 2014 study discovered that, in STEM jobs, a John is more likely to get a job than a Jennifer even if their CVs are identical and research from Cornell has uncovered the tendency among recruiters to hire candidates of their own, rather than another, ethnicity.

To diminish things like this happening hiring managers and companies need be more thorough and mindful when hiring, so mistakes and unconscious bias don’t control the hiring process.

Take control of your hiring process and think about who you’re hiring based on individuals backgrounds, experience and skills and not unimportant criteria such as gender, age, skin colour or ethnicity.