Friday, May 22, 2009

Box ticking

Yesterday, I was notified of a project which might prove suitable for me. I read the documentation and it certainly seemed do-able, so I decided to bid for the work. However, before I was able to do so, I had to complete a company profile online. On the basis of this profile I would either be granted or refused the opportunity to bid.

Early on, one of the questions established that my staff complement is in the range 1-4. One, to be exact. Me. In spite of this, I still had to answer questions about whether 50% of my business is owned/managed by women. Check. 50% of my management team belongs to ethnic minorities. No. 50% was gay and/or disabled. No. Do I have a diversity policy statement regarding the recruitment of people within these groups? No. Fail. You need not apply.

I have issue with this on several levels. First of all, let's focus on the word minority. By definition, people who belong to ethnic minorities are in the minority. I think we can safely say the same of gay and/or disabled people. So, what are the odds that a staff complement of 1-4 people is going to include a representative of any (or all) of those groups?

And, if we are correct in our assumption that we are talking about minorities here, why the 50%? I can more or less understand how they come to that figure in respect of women. After all, we constitute pretty much half the population. But I find it discriminatory to set in place a policy that gives any one group preference over another. How can it be considered a Good Thing to have a policy that favours women, when we have long since established that it is inappropriate to have one that favours men? Or one that favours black people, when it has taken generations to do away with one that favours white people?

And since I have no plans to recruit people any time soon, why would I have a recruitment policy of any kind, let alone one which stipulates that I must actively seek to recruit people from these various minorities? And what of the minorities who haven't been mentioned? Isn't such a policy discriminatory against them? Where is the policy for left-handed people? Vegans? Blondes? People over 50?

The logic in these tick boxes is broken, but because the process is entirely automated at this point, there is absolutely nothing that can be done about it. I have fallen at the first hurdle and this disqualifies me from having access to anyone to who I can point out the inconsistency. Is this a fair analogy for the box ticking approach taken to some of our education and corporate learning programmes?

Oh, and before you lynch me, just for the record, should I ever come to recruit anyone, this is my recruitment policy in one sentence:

I will hire the person I deem to be the most likely to do the job well. Period.


Norman Lamont said...

I wish you'd 'named and shamed' - if this is a company whose services I inadvertently use I'd drop them!

The road to hell etc ...

Karyn Romeis said...

@Norman I can guarantee that you don't use this company's services. However, it is probably a recipient of several of your tax Pounds.