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‘People of Color’ and ‘People of Quality’ Are Not Exclusive

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.

Ask the White Guy Luke ViscontiQuestion:
I recently overhead a conversation between our HR director, an African-American woman, and a hiring manager, a white woman. The HR director commented that she saw her success directly tied to hiring as many “women of color as possible” to which the hiring manager responded “my goal is to hire as many people of quality as possible.” How would you respond especially in light of a past response in which you commented that our past is full of double standards. Are you suggesting we address our past injustices by creating new ones? How would you have responded to the hiring manager?

Answer:
I don’t think that “women of color” and “people of quality” are exclusive terms. I know many high-quality women of color.

The goal of any hiring strategy should be to find a representative slate of the best quality people. However, given that talent is distributed equally and bidirectional communication links employees to markets, there are many business reasons to balance a non-representative work force by setting appropriate goals.

Since I’m not privy to the HR director’s goals, I can’t comment on her intention. It seems to me, however, that regardless of the HR director’s intention, the hiring manager may have been insubordinate.

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