Thursday, June 15, 2006

BS Hiring Practices

Warning – this post violates Leesa’s netiquette guideline about restricting posts to one page on the word processor. Deal with it. I’ll try to keep it down to two pages, but a shorter post wouldn’t do the subject matter justice.

Sorry to disappoint, but I wasn’t serious when I said I would bash gays in my next post. Personally, I approve of gay males – more women for the rest of us. On the other hand, gay women don’t help with my goals, so they’re all sinners who will burn in hell unless they immediately convert, or at least go bi-. Although I will say that most gay organizations, like GLAD, seem to exist for the sole purpose of finding new and exciting ways to take offense. Note – if you’re bothered that your lifestyle isn’t openly embraced by fictional characters such as Jay and Silent Bob, you have way too much time on your hands. Plus you’re a retarded homo. But instead of bashing you, I decided to post my views on the hiring practices of the last company for which I worked, especially how a little racism goes a long way.

The BS (company) branch for which I worked in Birmingham, Alabama hired mostly factory floor workers, but also had some openings for office staff. I applied for a few different jobs before I finally got hired. I received preferential treatment because I had worked there as a temp and they liked me, but I still had to pass a rigorous set of requirements – urinalysis, credit check, criminal background check, and I had to take two difficult tests, one English grammar and the other on matching and categorizing objects. I failed the second one on the first try, but they told me the secret to passing the tests: you didn’t have to get all answers correct, but you did have to answer each question. I was told at least 95% of the applicants failed, but they wanted to keep their BS hiring standards high, even though the tests weren’t valid. I label them invalid because they tested how fast you could complete the tasks, but the company actually wanted people who were accurate regardless of speed. Anyway, I retook the tests (each five pages long with only five minutes to complete), this time setting my watch on the table. When I got to 20 seconds, I completed the last page of the second test by just filling in answers without reading the questions, and I passed.

I didn’t work in HR, but I worked nearby and my daily duties allowed me to see all of the applicants that came through. Most were black, which was fortunate for the company. Officially, they didn’t discriminate. Unofficially, they had a BS ultimatum to hire as many minority workers as possible. Note – in Birmingham, minority means black. They’ll settle for brown or yellow if it’s all that’s available, but black keeps everybody happy. Bonus points for hiring a woman, the other minority.

I observed their practices over several months. The only time a white person made it past the front desk was when they passed all the requirements and we didn’t have an available minority candidate. On the other hand, the minority candidates were hired without meeting the BS standards. I don’t know how well any did on the written tests (I saw them tested, although none were failed), but I’m sure they didn’t all pass the drug and background checks, unless several didn’t start committing crimes and doing drugs until after they were gainfully employed.

There were several incidents which contributed to high minority worker turnover, but I’ll just mention a couple. One night, while working second shift, two employees didn’t return from lunch. Several others reported that the police had nabbed them. One of our supervisors was an auxiliary policeman, so he called his pals on the force and discovered one of the employees had been cashing bad checks throughout the area, so bad that all the convenience stores had his picture posted with a warning to call the police if they spotted him. While arresting him, they ran a check on his friend and discovered he had an arrest warrant as well, although it was from a neighboring city and they didn’t know for what crime. “So-and-so’s not coming back – he got arrested” was commonly heard on the production floor, although it was usually one at a time.

The first time I heard of that happening was on first shift, and it definitely wasn’t limited to a single employee. A group of about thirty used their lunch break to attend a cocaine party which was raided by police. Enough workers were carted away to effectively shut our department down until the second shifters could be called in to work overtime.

The main problem with the BS hiring practices, other than being completely racist, is that they weren’t really doing the minority workers much of a favor. Sure, they were unionized and the pay was decent – even the lowest paid unskilled laborer made more than the majority of the office workers – but most were stuck in their low paying positions. In order to work their way up to a higher paying factory position, they had to show some mechanical aptitude and work ethics. Despite the obvious stupidity of BS management, they did limit their ranks to people who had already passed the other tests (exams, background check, etc.).

I think that’s part of why office staff and especially managers were mostly white. Another company policy was to promote from within whenever possible (although many managers refused to do this). Although they just wanted warm bodies (preferably black, preferably female) on the production floor, they had higher standards for the offices and those few of us in the majority (hetero white males under the age of forty) had already been pre-screened.

Side note – the other attitude which limited the minority workers was rooted in fear of a lawsuit. They taught there BS managers that, if an employee sued for discrimination, it would cost an average of $75,000 in court fees even if the company won the trial. Management took that to mean “Never fire anybody who could claim any type of discrimination unless it’s worth $75,000 to do so.” It never was, so if they risked promoting a minority person (i.e. all those people who are not hetero white males under forty), that person had a job for life.

I had an employee who fit the majority profile and was a hard worker with a good attitude, but had all the attention to detail of a Chihuahua on crack. Unfortunately he was in a job which required precision detail and calculations. I spoke to HR about the possibility of moving him into a job that would better suit his talents, to which the HR manager (the same one who eventually ousted me) said “We’re not going to keep him just because he’s a good guy. As a courtesy, give him one month to get up to speed and then fire him.” By that time the company had been training him for over a year, and another month wasn’t going to help.

Conversely, a fellow supervisor had a black female employee who didn’t work half of the hours she charged to the company, refused to do anything that wasn’t specifically in her job description (even though the description said it was just a guideline, not an exhaustive list of duties), and purposefully screwed up every assignment she was given in order to encourage management not to ask anything of her. Her supervisor decided she needed to go and so spoke to the same HR manager. She (all women in this case, so at least that’s one discrimination angle that can be removed) was told that she could fire the employee, but she needed to carefully document every incident, sit with her weekly for counseling sessions, and that she needed to give her at least six months to improve, preferably a year. With that kind of environment, I’m betting all managers (even minorities) cringe at the thought of hiring a minority.

I don’t really have a point to make – I’m just sayin’, is all.

20 comments:

Stacy The Peanut Queen said...

Since I am currently AT work, all I'm going to say is....your workplace isn't the only place that happens.

Doesn't make it right and it doesn't make it better...but at least you know it happens elsewhere too (which I know you knew already).

Can I go home now? ;)

Liz said...

Other than the avoidance of lawsuits I don't quite see the upside of their policies. Regaurdless, I bet it was super frustrating to work there.

~Deb said...

Ah it's men like yourself that turn more and more women into lesbians! SO glad! More for me!!!!!

JK!!! hehe... Love ya sweetie---even if you are a lesbian trapped in a man's body.

I'm going with Stacy right now as far as not commenting on the other half of this post.

Zippin' lip now!

Angie said...

Considering I had to return to work 2 days early because of incompetent employees...I'm probably not a good one to comment on this right now.

messiah said...

i'm more thankful than i can say that the hiring process involves human resources, management, the direct supervisor and usually an employee from the area the person being hired is interviewing for.

our worst people are good. our best people are stellar. our bad people never make it through their 6 month probation.

Grant said...

pq - yeah, call it a day.

liz - BS is under constant pressure by advocacy groups to hire more black people. Of course they did and now the groups are complaining that they don't occupy enough key decision-making roles.

~deb - I command you to convert. Don't make me sic Dani on you (again).

angie - or maybe it makes you the perfect one to comment.

messiah - my new company isn't that great, but is a major improvement over the last one. Still, I think part of the reason I got hired was because they thought I was gay.

Kira said...

I actually had a situation in one job (office of child support) that was the reverse. My boss was a black guy who only liked white people. While I was there, at least three highly competent black employees were fired so he could hire white employees instead. The place had a six month probation period so he could fire at will as long as they didn't cross that six month mark. He could show that he HIRED these folks to keep within the proportions of minorites to hire. He also knew that since he was a black guy firing blacks, the chances of a lawsuit about discrimination was less likely to be taken seriously by a judge. There were at least two black employees who would come to me and tell me what suggestions they had so that *I*, whitey mcwhitegirl, could bring it up to the boss. Hell, I even told the boss publically to kiss my ass and smacked my ass for emphasis...I got away with that...but a black person in my office? Screw it. He or she would have been fired instantly.

Lots of offices have fucked up bosses. People sometimes wonder why I am frequently happy to work for practically no pay as a teacher, but part of it is that my boss is sane, supportive, kind, and smart. How often does THAT happen?

Blue said...

I've been at my current place of employment for 6years - I'm a temp - so if 6yrs fulfills your criteria for temporary - then I'm ur girl ;-)

They won't give me permanency - so I'm looking forward to leaving at the end of the year & taking all the IP with me in my head hehe

annush said...

you know what?
i hate that people collectivelly group every single white person regardless of ethnic orgin and call them "the majority". It's dumb because it's not really true.
That said, those hiring practices are really bullshit...my family has a bunch of really great businesses in the tri-state area (NY/NJ/CT) and I am convinced that one of the reasons why we haven't failed is because we don't listen to that quota/affirmative action nonsense. The person best qualified to do a given job REGARDLESS OF ETHNIC BACKGROUND is the winner and we generally promote from within. I firmly believe that the affirmative action laws exist for stupid white business owners because if you exercise common sense, even if you have to go to court for a discrimination lawsuit, you will still win.

GirlGoyle said...

Well...got to love states promoting employment at will. Here they can fire your ass, move or close w/o giving explanations. Funny I thought the labor board existed to safeguard the employee, turns out it's not.

Grant said...

kira - how brave of you to let us all know that black people are sometimes the victims of racism as well. Living in the South, I have never heard of the concept. :p

bluebolt - leave them a nice virus as a parting gift.

annush - I hate being told I'm the majority as well, mostly because a) hetero white males under 40 are not the majority of our society, and b) people assume that because of my age and color and sex that I must lead a charmed life.

girlgoyle - my BS branch is also headquartered in an Employment at Will state, but they fear lawsuits from advocacy groups, so they only apply the random firings to safe employees.

PBS said...

Yes they do. At least at the university where I worked about ten years ago. They were required to intereview at least two minority candidates and often were forced to hire one or the other. This is a whitebread area, so they would have the job open a long long time before they finally got two minority applicants.

Hey, if I became an auxiliary police-person maybe I could be a snitch too.

Weary Hag said...

Having been turned down for a job at the local police department after scoring second highest on my written and oral exams (as told to me by the Lieutenant after said test) ONLY because they had to hire at least one minority out of the two open positions, maybe I'm also not the best person to comment on this.
(I got the dope on the minority preference bullshit when one of the testing officers had his fill with the injustice as well)

Guess I commented after all. Would you look at that?

Weary Hag said...

And hey, as you know - I suffer from long-postosis too, so you'll never hear me complain about that. There are no flippin etiquette rules about post length. There is however, a "next" button if you choose to move on rather than read. If you haven't opted to move on, then don't complain in comments after you've read the thing.

There. I've said it.

SJ said...

The political establishment in a vote winning exercise is trying to get reservations for minorities in companies here in India. I think I should mail this to the Prime Minister.


BTW I think that black female employee you mention towards the end is smart. I get more work when I do work maybe I can learn something from her, hmmm...

TTD said...

that's all due to affirmative action... it's crazy & as a black female.. i would be super pissed if they kept the losers around just b/c they were scared of a lawsuit.. how about put some DESERVING black people in management positions that way if the loser gets fired, they cant cry racism... did you let go of the guy after a month??

Grant said...

pbs - yes, become an auxiliary snitch. That way I'll have an inside contact.

weary hag - I think most people have had at least one experience with racism, regardless of color.

sj - of course, I would be a minority in your country. Therefore I approve of your government sponsored racism. :p

ttd - no, I had a flaky manager (black woman on the outside, but pure corporate on the inside) who, after telling me to fire the guy, then told me to ask the other department managers if we should fire him. Nobody wanted to go that far, so they all recommended that I continue to work with him. He knew his time was limited so he took the offer when they started passing out severance packages for voluntary withdrawals.

patti_cake said...

Grant, your post may be long but you are never boring! We have BS hiring/employment policies at my place of employment also. *sigh*

krisbtterfly said...

i think you should write a book about it. you can do research through all of the blogger acquaintances here... we've all got freakish stories that would make for an interesting read. i'm going to write one about being a secretary (if there isn't already one)- about a boss that farts so loud in his office that it resonates loudly off his leather chair.

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