Business, Fairness Need Not Apply: #TChat Recap

The diversity perception is much different in practice. The reality is, we discriminate; we stink at giving folks a fair shake, especially when they’re not familiar.

Many of us in the world of work try to be fair, try not to choose one applicant or an internal candidate over another because of attractiveness, ethnicity, religious affiliation, physical capacity and many other attributes, including innovative like-mindedness, which isn’t the same as diversity of thought.

But we prefer the attractive familiar, however subjective, both physically and mentally.

According to a new study by a team of researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston University and Proctor & Gamble, makeup makes women appear more attractive and competent.

“The research reveals that when viewers saw a female face for 250 milliseconds, women who wore color cosmetics rated more highly in the categories of attractiveness, competence, likability and trustworthiness. However, when participants were allowed to look at the faces for a longer period of time, while the ratings for competence and attractiveness stayed the same, the ratings for likability and trustworthiness changed based on specific makeup looks.”

Yep, we’re superficial like that. The heroines are pretty and competent and the villains are ugly and incompetent.

Sarah Palin is hot, but Hillary Clinton is not. Right?

Psychological theory suggests that we often rely on the recognition heuristic, choosing the option that we recognize over the one we don’t. If we interview two job applicants, one of which is more similar to us physically and mentally, that applicant will usually get the edge.

Personally, I’ve tried to break through that practice in previous hiring incarnations. I would like to think that I’ve hired based on quality of fit, not familiarity. Maybe I have at times. I hope so. If you and you organization feel that you’ve broken the discrimination barrier, then show us your diverse employed huddled masses on your career sites, not stock photos of airbrushed pretty models wearing makeup.

On the other hand, while I’m all about the best talent working for me, regardless of background, businesses aren’t social programs and shouldn’t be treated as such. In fact, the best business leaders could give a hoot about tolerance and diversity when they want their folks to be the very best they can be — for the themselves and the business.

Encouraging diversity of thought for driving innovation and growth regardless of background should be the best practice, but fairness need not apply. Get the edge by becoming familiar with the unfamiliar, if there’s a quality of hire fit.

We appreciate everyone who tackled a difficult topic with us in 140 characters! We appreciate our talent community. Each of you for you.

1)      Does diversity still matter in the new world of work?  Should it? 

2)      What are some of the benefits of building and maintaining a diverse workforce?

3)      What are some of the biggest misconceptions or myths surrounding diversity & inclusion?

4)      Who should be responsible for driving diversity in an organization?

5)      What does a diverse workforce look like?  How can its business impact be measured?

6)      What’s the future of diversity?  How do you see attitudes or approaches evolving over the next 10 years?

The #TChat Twitter chat and #TChat Radio are created and hosted by @MeghanMBiro @KevinWGrossman and powered by our partners @TalentCulture @Monster_WORKS @MonsterCareers @HRmarketer @Focus and our community.