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Do Good Companies Discriminate in Job Hiring?

Ask the White Guy Luke Visconti

Question:
My company is on your Top 50 for Diversity list and celebrates its Diversity Week in November. There will be rewards given to nominees who embrace diversity, which is all very good. My question: How do you help a company see that they must also keep a watchful eye on those managers who don’t care about receiving an award and think that they can continue to operate as business as usual?

I have been with the company for 15 years. During that time, I have taken advantage of the generous education program and received a bachelor’s and soon to be two master’s degrees. Last year, my department decided to outsource many jobs, mine included. For those of us who want to stay with the company, we only have [a few months] to find another job. I have, on record, 54 job postings [that] I have applied for. Of those postings, I have only been interviewed for six of the jobs. During each interview, the hiring manager finds some area of their business that I am not familiar with to point out that I am not qualified for the position. I know of a few individuals (non-minority) from my department with less qualification who have already found new positions, but I am still looking.

I cannot believe that out of 54 postings I [don’t] qualify for any of them. I am not writing this question out of bitterness. I am only writing it to find an answer. All I seek is an opportunity.

Answer:
I’m very familiar with your company and it is a long-term leader in diversity management. This doesn’t mean that every manager is “on it,” but you stand a much better chance of finding a progressive manager at your company than most people do.

Since I don’t know you, I am forced to give general suggestions. Not all of them may apply to you. Please understand that I am not trying to diminish the reality of your experience when I suggest that you can take action to change your outcome.

Please consider this checklist:

1. Give your next job application your “full game.” Study for the interview, understand the person with whom you’re interviewing, know the department, try reaching out to that person’s friends for insight into what areas give the manager the most pain. Make yourself a walking encyclopedia of solutions.

2. Follow up. Make sure your follow-up correspondence is not a form letter. Make it relevant to the potential new supervisor.

3. Politics. See if you can leverage people you know to apply influence on areas that interest you for a transfer. Find managers who HAVE been active in your company’s diversity-management efforts. Utilize your employee-resource-group network.

4. Appearance counts. Make the best of your personal visit. Dress one level up. Use the spellchecker on your correspondence (I’m not sure why people think that misspellings are OK in an e-mail).

5. Be positive. Forget about the 54 jobs you applied for. Focus on the future. You love your company–tell them about it. Tell them how much you care, how proud you are to work there and how satisfying it has been to avail yourself of their generous education benefits. Tell them how you want to use that knowledge to their benefit and work there until you retire. It’s hard to resist a positive message like that. Don’t include anything negative. Air your opinions with the highest level you can reach by writing letters to executives, and ask for their help!

6. Learn. We have a number of really good career-advice articles on this web site.

Your industry is going through hard times. Despite that, their commitment to diversity has not wavered (again, I’m not discounting your experience, it’s just that your experience at your company is likely to be much, much better than at the average company).

By the way, there is opportunity in tough times; a good manager will be much more open to hiring someone they don’t know who is well prepared over an “old boy” who is taking it for granted that they’ll get the job.

My heart goes out to you and I wish you good fortune in finding another position in that company.

Luke Visconti’s Ask the White Guy column is a top draw on DiversityInc.com. Visconti, the founder and CEO of DiversityInc, is a nationally recognized leader in diversity management. In his popular column, readers who ask Visconti tough questions about race/culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability and age can expect smart, direct and disarmingly frank answers.

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