But Hiring is discrimination

Let’s not jump to conclusions!

Don’t get all worked up reading the title! All the George Floyd discussions on racism, discrimination, and biases got me thinking that we as HR professionals or any human being for that matter,” Are we devoid of that?” I want to ask you all “Can we really get rid of discrimination?

As a hiring manager I have discriminated candidates based on their education, location, and maybe overall personality (Though I do not want to disclose it even to myself let alone to the world on my blog) and I am sure you are no different. In return, I am also discriminated against as a woman and as a job-seeking candidate. Maybe because the recruiter doesn’t like my face or my qualification (what is a Dentist doing in HR? Another confused kid?). The Dentists on the other hand discriminate against me because I was a fool to leave a noble profession (how dare she disrespect the profession by wasting one precious seat?!?) totally forgetting that I am actually doing them a favor by not adding to the competition!

And then there is discrimination as a Woman. Not long ago a Manager reprimanded me for considering a pregnant woman for a role which I seriously thought she was fit for. “But Anuya, why don’t you see that she will head for her Maternity Leave within 6 Months? Why do you want to hire someone who wouldn’t come to the office as soon as they join?” With “work from home” becoming a norm I hope to see some positive changes for women wanting to go on Maternity Leave, they shouldn’t be forced to choose between two loves. Moreover, it’s no secret that women often are employed at lower-paid positions, and if the position is the same as men, the salary will be lower at least.

She has to do so and so because she is a woman.” That so and so can range from doing the dishes to doing babies. And I am neither against doing dishes or babies but can I really escape me being a woman? I revel in me being a woman but could I escape it if I didn’t like being one? Do we really have a choice of what defines us and what doesn’t?

Research says that a woman is a more undesirable employee (?) than a man. Oh, can she stay late? Or travel to that far away office all on her own? It is proved that most employers (and they, as a rule, are represented by men) prefer to hire men and show prejudice against women workers (Jerenberg R. and Smith R., 2014).

Let’s not forget that recruiters are technical Buyers. Their performance is judged on how well candidate/s match the given requirement.

If you aren’t a 90-100% match on paper, you won’t get called. And you can’t be more than 100% match either (talk about impossible standards!)  Studies show that discrimination in employment can be categorized into four types: taste discrimination model; statistical discrimination; discrimination on the basis of monopsony power, discrimination on the basis of occupational segregation.

  1. Taste discrimination model (Becker’s ‘employer taste’ model) is based on the work of Gary Becker and develops the idea that some workers, employers or customers do not want to work with or come into contact with members of other racial groups or with women. In India that racial discrimination can be categorised as religious or caste-based discrimination. No explanation is given as to why this prejudice exists, rather it is simply assumed that there is a ‘taste’ or preference against people from disadvantaged groups and that this taste can be treated in exactly the same way that economists would analyse individual preferences between goods and services(!?!)
  2. Statistical discrimination is the orientation of the employer on his/her predictions about the possible performance of a particular group, for example, men and women. The applicant in the selection of a job will set the wage that corresponds to the value of the average productivity, although the individual performance of the applicant will be different from its value in this group.
  3. Discrimination on the basis of a monopsony power of the employer is based on the idea of a single buyer, a monopsonist, who sets wages below marginal revenue product. The more inelastic the Labour supply, the lower are wages relative to productivity. By differentiating wages between groups with different elasticities of Labour supply, the monopsonist may obtain higher profits. Gender is one of the dimensions along which the employer may discriminate. If female Labour supply is more inelastic than male Labour supply, women will earn less than men relative to their productivity, and thus face a higher level of exploitation in the Labour market.
  4. Occupational segregation is a very dangerous form of discrimination in society, as representatives of different groups of workers have unequal access to the different kinds of Labour activity. Occupations are locked between men and women, between the newcomers and locals and so on.

So, when you are saying “Yes” to something you are saying “No” to something else, and let’s not deny that. When Darwin said “Survival of the fittest” he didn’t know his concept was so widely relatable not just to Science but to all walks of life.If you go looking for discrimination, you’ll find it! While criticizing discrimination let’s also look at shifting perspectives.

Let Rejections be just improvement areas disguised as roadblocks. None of us like rejection but that is the part of the process and necessary so. Our perspective should be, “Was that discrimination justified? Was I not hired because there was a better suitable candidate or Was, I rejected because something in me triggered the recruiter and he/she acted out of their sub/unconscious bias?” are the questions we need to ask not only as interviewees but also as interviewers.

All in all, I am against biases or any discrimination which is demoralizing, dehumanizing, and downright ridiculous. I want to raise my opinion about how any selection process is in fact discrimination albeit indirect. You are discriminating when you are buying groceries, selecting a mate, or deciding which work to do first. Let’s be conscious of our biases and act better. Let’s take discrimination positively and also let’s discriminate only on the basis of quality. Let’s be generous in our outlook and be open to thought processes that are not similar to our own.

Let “the best” Man, Woman, Idea, process, policy, rule, habit (and the list goes on) win and may we also strive to discriminate our older versions against our not so good versions and be on a continuous process of reinventing ourselves. While we cannot completely remove discrimination, we can definitely make better use of it.

References:

*Discrimination issues in the process of personnel selection Krinitcyna Z.V. a *, Menshikova E.V.