Thursday, 11 July 2013

Stereotypes in employment and diversity in the workplace.

"Permanent or Contractor Nothing Else Exists".

Some colleagues of mind discussed recently a fairly frustrating scenario for them. Two of them have been for the last five years or so being running consulting service businesses; they use their network to obtain short term consulting work, sometimes for a week or two, or perhaps a couple of days a week with one client and a couple with another, a few hours there and a few ours here. They make a reasonable living but work is a bit up and down at times therefore they have applied recently for a few traditional roles.

Recruiters and line managers cannot get past the stereotype view that you either work full time on a permanent contract as an employee or you work on contracts one after the other. The idea that people run their own business and are employed by that business and deal with multiple clients with large amounts of time being invested in business development seems to be difficult to grasp. Running a proper business is a permanent position.

They want to see a chronological CV detailing all dates of deployment or demand CV's with no GAPS as one "fool" wrote in a reply to a colleague today. When you run your own small business then this is really an unrealistic request.

The sad part is theses guys are good at what they do but the "employ in my own image " brigade are missing out on entrepreneurial skill sets that would result in much more significant change that employing "dull" "run of the mill" individuals like themselves usually creates.

The "employ in my own image" approach creates a lack of diversity in a business and promotes group think and an unimaginative culture. Statements like "I am looking for cultural fit" actually mean "I am looking to employ people like the ones we already have" which could mean discrimination, and often does. Is this ageism perhaps or worse?

If you have a young staff and a fifty something arrives for interview and he/she is told I don't think you fit in with the culture is that ageism? probably is.

Employing different people from different employment circumstances, cultures, backgrounds and ages is diversity in action, it reflects the society that your customers represent - employ in your own image reduces diversity narrows the culture and limits your ability to serve the community that owes you a living.

A lot of this activity is not often deliberate it is usually down to naivety and ignorance. If a manager has not be exposed to a different way of working and always operated like he/she does then they have limited perception beyond their own world.

Underneath runs stereotypes of age and cultural background that generate anti-diversity behaviours in recruitment. Any amount of government legislation will not solve this, the only thing that can work is management training which brings these issues to the fore and makes people understand what they are doing as most ,to be fair, are blissfully ignorant of what they do and how it affect lives.

I do feel for individuals who have in the face of redundancy gone out and done brave "stuff" and created portfolio income based live styles and then are effectively shunned by the main stream when they try to return to a more conventional approach faced with a short sighted and narrow minded  approach.

I do feel sorry for competent older workers who get interviewed by  a young line manager who then "bins" their application because of "lack of cultural fit" because they don't think the candidate will fit in with the young team.

Mr/ Mrs Salary-man one day it might well happen to you ; open your minds to a diverse workforce and you may well be pleasantly surprised.