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Lies Companies Tell Themselves

“We hire the best person for the job.”

Companies make a lot of excuses for not having a diverse workforce, and this is one of the most popular - and insulting. It implies that the company has no unconscious bias, and the high quality of their hiring process just happened to result in a predominantly Caucasian male workforce.

The truth is, the “best person” most likely has a job somewhere else - probably at the competition. They also might not be attracted to your company because of your products, leadership, location, compensation package, or culture. If any company thinks that they managed to hire the singular best person at that position, then they are delusional.

Companies have open requisitions for a reason; they have a need. By not filling that opening, they are losing money, not delivering to market as fast as they want, not working as efficiently as they want. They need to fill that position. I can tell you, as someone who has been on dozens of interview loops and have been a Hiring Manager, companies hire the first person available who meets the qualifications and passes the interview.

If companies want to get serious about improving their diversity, they should implement a variation of the NFL’s Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview ethnic minorities for head coaching and senior operations positions. A position should stay open until at least two women and two underrepresented minority candidates interview. (In companies where the requirement is only one, that candidate is often seen as a token. But hiring of females and minorities increases significantly when at least two must be interviewed.)

Hiring a diverse workforce doesn’t lower the bar. It raises it by forcing companies to look for candidates in places outside of their comfort zone and learn how to attract people who don’t look like themselves.

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