Monday, July 25, 2005


(ADVISORY: I’ve read that people have been fired for writing about their workplace in their blogs. In this case, I don’t think what I’m about to report will cause any problems.)

As I reveal in the title bar above, I’m a Human Resources manager.

A very important part of that job is to make sure we comply with the myriad laws and regulations designed to prevent unfair or disparate treatment.

I’m talking about EEOC regulations in hiring, job action, discipline, layoff, and termination. Also laws like HIPAA, designed to ensure privacy of health care information. And there are state laws in addition to the better-known federal ones.

Until recently my little industrial plant was owned by a large corporation with federal contracts. That meant we fell under the OFCCP (Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs), and had to maintain an active Affirmative Action Plan. The goal of any AAP is to hire applicants in a racial/gender/ethnic mix that approximates that same mix (statistically) as found in your hiring area.

Even good-intentioned companies—and, contrary to popular belief, there ARE some out there—sometimes face the dilemma of choosing between a better qualified candidate (who may just be a white male) and a lesser, or barely qualified minority.

Anyway, our new plant owner has NO federal contracts! That meant that I no longer had to follow an AAP with minority hiring goals and timetables. While I could not legally discriminate, I was free to choose the best qualified candidate I could find without regard to race, gender, creed, color, ethnic origin, sexual orientation (I put that in for you, Karyn), and so on; a true EQUAL opportunity situation!

Thus relieved of my regulatory burden, I set out two months ago to hire a degreed accountant. In this area of rural South Texas, jobs at an industrial plant tend to be higher-paying than similar jobs “in town.” Thus I had a good number of applicants, including many with one or more kinds of minority status.

As you might suspect, the most prevalent local minority consists of Hispanics (or Latinos, as some prefer to be called). Blacks are next, followed by Asians (mostly of Vietnamese origin—quite a number emigrated to South Texas as the Vietnam War was nearing conclusion.) Other groups are mostly considered “statistically insignificant,” a term I would find insulting if I were one.

We conducted a scrupulously fair (and legal!) screening process to narrow the field. Throughout the entire time our focus was on qualifications. We never even spoke of any of those “EEOC” issues or factors.

Guess who the best qualified candidate was/is? Yep, a black female. If I had been “under the gun” (from my AAP Goals and Timetables) to hire a black female, my best qualified candidate would probably have been a young white male.

She started work today. She and we are delighted to have found each other.

Ironic! (But nice!)

OH! Btw, After fighting with Hotmail all weekend and submitting a trouble report, suddenly this afternoon it started working again. But now I don't trust it any more, so I'm exploring other webmail alternatives (like gmail). Until further notice, tho, please continue to email me at the address in my profile area.

(I wonder if any bloggers maintain an amateurfile, instread of a profile. Probably not.)


VikiBabbles said...

If you need a gmail invite, let me know. I've got a zillion of them. Okay, 50. But that's a lot.

Anonymous said...

I'll be politically incorrect here: Isn't hiring a lesser qualified candidate because of race still discrimination? As a white male, I'd be pretty disheartened of someone said "Well, you clearly weren't the best candidate, but we did need a token white boy. Just providing full disclosure, cracker."

Maybe this is me being unable to look at this issue from a non-white perspective, but to me it does more harm than good when groups claim to want equality, then ask for special treatment. You're either equal or you're not.

Duke_of_Earle said...

Viki: DO send me an invite, please. I think I'll jump on board Gmail for a change. I never got used to the Hotmail "interface" anyway.

Hamel: Well of course hiring a less-qualified candidate is discriminatory! That's why it's so irksome. And with this particular hire, had a "white boy" been the best qualified we'd have hired him. But I HAVE been involved in the past with an "Affirmative Action" hire of a minority who was NOT as well qualified as some non-minorities.

How do I handle that? I just NEVER tell any candidate "Why" he or she was not selected. I only tell them that we had a number of qualified candidates to choose from, and only one position to fill. But we'll keep their resume on file, etc., etc...

Karyn Lyndon said...

Very funny, Duke. I may have been descriminated against once or twice but NEVER for my sexual orientation. It has ALWAYS been due south!

schnoodlepooh said...

Thanks for the warning about not talking abour work in my blog. It makes sense because you never know if your boss is reading it!
I'm glad that you hired the best candidate for your position. Congrats!