This is part 3 of the series inspired by Cindy Gallop’s brilliant talk on finding talented women or minorities.
Not only is your company not hiring female or minority employees, not investing in female or minority-led companies, but YOU ARE LITERALLY ADDING INSULT TO INJURY.
The tech workforce is disproportionately white and Asian male, and the white male proportion increases the higher one goes up the ladder. Link to Fortune article here. I don’t just make this shit up.
Here is what people say when told these facts about their company.
“We hire/fund solely based on merit.”
Which is saying, that Latinos, African-Americans, Native Americans, women are INFERIOR. If you do not mean that, please tell me how “has less merit” is defined in your language.
There is actually a great deal of research that documents that women and non-white men are NOT judged equally. Here is a link to a summary of three of them. In fact, the identical pitch, when given by a man, was about twice as likely to rated favorably as a pitch by a woman.
The second was on how we hire men based on their potential but we hire women based on their proven accomplishments. The same goes for African-Americans, Latinos and others who don’t fit the stereotype. There are plenty of studies, here’s a link to one of them, that show we give people “like us” the benefit of the doubt. They are rated more highly, more likely to be hired. The “like us” includes “like the people who already work here”.
This whole “they don’t have merit” and judging one group of people on potential while another is judged on accomplishments, produces a vicious circle.
You hire Bob because he has all the qualifications for the job – degree in the right field, portfolio he created in college that highlights his skills – and he is your friend, Bubba’s son. I get that, I really do. We are a small company and we can’t afford to have people working for us who are lazy, faked their qualifications or just cannot get along with their co-workers. Bob is a known quantity and you want to mitigate risk.
So, now, Roberto, or Roberta, does NOT get the internship. When you are looking for a full-time employee, it’s not that you don’t like Latinos or women but Bob has experience and they don’t. Two years later, when you are looking for someone to promote to management, there is Bob, with two years of experience in your company and Roberto and Roberta are somewhere else.
Let’s go back to the beginning, though, when Bob is applying for his first internship or pitching his first startup. Let’s say you don’t know Bob, or Roberto or Roberta. How fucking DARE you start off by saying,
“Well, I’d give Roberto or Roberta the chance if one of them is the better candidate.”
Why do they have to be the BETTER candidate? Why can’t they be just as good?
Okay, now you’re back-pedaling,
Well, of course, if they were just as good.
What really, really makes me want to slap people is the assumption that Roberto or Roberta are not just as good, the willingness to accept the “we only hire for merit and all of the white, male people are better.” Define better.
Let me tell you what happens to the definition of better – it moves to fit your preconceived notions.
Sometimes, Maria and I look at the programs that decided not to fund us or accept us in their accelerator and we laugh a little bitterly. They accept/ fund people with less traction, less users, no product, less experience, less education. Somehow, though, they have “more merit”.
It’s your money, it’s your program and you have every legal right to select people how you see fit.
Just DON’T go around telling people that you accepted all young white and Asian men because there were no good female, black, Latino or Native American entrepreneurs out there, because that just makes me want to slap you.