Another update from the Jungle….
Alana walked into the break room to refill her coffee mug and stumbled into a raging war. A group of co-workers were arguing about the merits of the presidential candidates. Alana sidled toward the coffee maker regretting that she didn’t send her assistant to check if the coast was clear.
The political argument covered familiar ground. Several co-workers scoffed that Carly Fiorina is ugly and unattractive and so she shouldn’t be president. Another co-worker chimed in criticizing the physical appearance and business sense of Hilary Clinton. Both women were criticized for fashion faux pas.
Aside from a few cracks about Donald Trump’s hair, the male candidates were judged on their prior experience and ideas.
The argument focused on the conservative credentials of the male candidates but no one criticized their suits or their ties.
Alana grabbed her mug and trudged back to her office reflecting that some things never seem to change. The women candidates are judged on their physical appearance and not their ideas or abilities. Alana thought about other women presidential candidates. In 1972, Shirley Chisholm’s campaign was dismissed with a smile. In 1984, Geraldine Ferraro’s qualifications as a vice presidential candidate were buried under stories about her husband’s alleged Mafia connections. (He was Italian-American from New York and owned a construction business.)
Alana’s the HR director for her company and she conducts many interviews to screen job applicants. The interviews require her to judge job candidates based on appearance, how well they prepare for the interview and their prior work experience. Inevitably, some job candidates lose the chance to move to the next stage of the hiring process because they don’t look or act “right” in the initial interview.
Alana knows that rejecting a job candidate almost always involves her biases, good and bad. She also knows that there are many ways to explain why a candidate was rejected that appear neutral and unbiased.
What should Alana do next?
- She can resign her job and go live in a cave with no wi-fi until after the presidential election next November.
- She can create a new HR policy banning political discussions in the break room.
- She can accept the reality that we are judged on our appearance and recognize how her personal biases influence her hiring recommendations.
If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.
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