Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Back to the Drawing Board. Seriously.

According to an article in the New York Times, college degrees aren't helping black men find jobs. "Well, No1KState, everybody's struggling now." At a ratio of 8.4 to 4.4 for black men with college degrees to white men with college degrees?

The administrators at racismreview noted that the article failed to explicitly say white hiring managers had a problem with black job applicants. The closest Michael Luo came to blaming white people was quoting stories like this one:
Mr. Williams recently applied to a Dallas money management firm that had posted a position with top business schools. The hiring manager had seemed ecstatic to hear from him, telling him they had trouble getting people from prestigious business schools to move to the area. Mr. Williams had left New York and moved back in with his parents in Dallas to save money.

But when Mr. Williams later met two men from the firm for lunch, he said they appeared stunned when he strolled up to introduce himself.

“Their eyes kind of hit the ceiling a bit,” he said. “It was kind of quiet for about 45 seconds.”

The company’s interest in him quickly cooled, setting off the inevitable questions in his mind.
Mr. Johnny R Williams has JPMorgan Chase and an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago on his résumé.

I'm not really surprised Luo fails to acknowledge that if companies were excited about a particular job applicant until they see him, then the problem is with the interviewers, not the applicant. After all, have you listened to the way people talk about slavery? Almost as though the country just had black slaves running around with no white slaveowners. As for today, this whole problem that black men with amazing resumes are having a harder time finding jobs than white men isn't white people's fault. After all,
The discrimination is rarely overt, according to interviews with more than two dozen college-educated black job seekers around the country, many of them out of work for months. Instead, those interviewed told subtler stories, referring to surprised looks and offhand comments, interviews that fell apart almost as soon as they began, and the sudden loss of interest from companies after meetings.
And plus,
There is also the matter of how many jobs, especially higher-level ones, are never even posted and depend on word-of-mouth and informal networks, in many cases leaving blacks at a disadvantage. A recent study published in the academic journal Social Problems found that white males receive substantially more job leads for high-level supervisory positions than women and members of minorities.
See? None of this alleged "discrimination" has anything at all to do with some supposed racist conspiracy white people have against black men with degrees from Yale and MBAs from the University of Chicago. No! White employers would love to hire more Morehouse me, but
. . . [they simply gravite] toward similar people, casting about for the right “cultural fit,” a buzzword often heard in corporate circles.
After all,
they conceded, there are times when their race can be beneficial, particularly with companies that have diversity programs. But many said they sensed that such opportunities had been cut back over the years and even more during the downturn. Others speculated there was now more of a tendency to deem diversity unnecessary after Mr. Obama’s triumph.

In fact, whether Mr. Obama’s election has been good or bad for their job prospects is hotly debated. Several interviewed went so far as to say that they believed there was only so much progress that many in the country could take, and that there was now a backlash against blacks.
Now that you've gotten the basic gist of the article, I can share my true feelings. Of course, I absolutely agree with the "blacklash" theory. Also, are we really gonna consider being black "beneficial" just because some company has realized they've already met the quota for white men? Cause actually, diversity improves performance and profits.

And what the hell is "cultural fit" and doesn't it already raise a red flag?
Essentially, the phrase refers to an employee or applicant who shares the employer's business attitudes, values, goals, and overall view of how the particular business should be run. Every workplace has a style that is reflected in the way its employees act and dress; how they deal with clients, customers, and each other; and how they comport themselves in the larger work world.
I found another definition/explanation here:
In the work setting, lack of fit between an employee and an organization can be described as culture clash. Culture encompasses the shared, taken-for-granted assumptions that a group has learned throughout its history -- values held in common that extend beyond the framed mission statement hanging in the lobby. It includes the following:
 Work style -- the way work is done.
  • Team orientation -- hierarchical versus egalitarian.  
  • Management style -- collaborative or commanding. 
  • Customer orientation -- a nuisance as opposed to reason for being.  
  • Political style -- the importance of what you know versus who you know.  
  • Attitudes toward things like learning and risk taking.  
Lack of cultural fit is largely due to a misguided hiring process supported by ineffective execution. Even the best-intentioned organizations - those that focus on competencies and relevant behaviors, in addition to education and experience -- frequently don't assess the issue of cultural fit accurately. Failure to do this minimizes the likelihood of arriving at a successful match.
So how does this play out in real life terms? Let's take a look at one of Harvard's Baker Scholars (awarded only to the top students of the MBA graduate class), a black man named James who kept being rejected because he wasn't the white, oh, I mean, right cultural fit. His race wasn't necessarily the problem.
He mentioned, for instance, that he was extremely fastidious in his working style, and would stay long hours to ensure that he always produced work of the highest quality. Admirable within some companies, perhaps, but others might see it as being detrimental to team spirit if James were not able to prioritise, or to relax once in a while if the work he was doing at the time wasn’t critical.

He also mentioned that he liked to take initiative and present the people around him with highly-polished work. But if the organisation was used to getting everyone involved in the problem so that the solution was jointly developed, would James accommodate this or not?

So, although the recruiter could be more helpful to James in the feedback which is given to him, there is nothing underhand going on. In fact, the recruiter is working in James’s interests to ensure that he does not join a firm where he will not fit in and excel.
So black men, here's some job advice, based mostly on what I've laid out and in the spirit of this particular post (Which I hope you realize is mostly sarcasm . . . about the reasons for the disparity in employment between black male college grads and white male college grads, not the disparity itself.).Don't demonstrate initiative.
  1. Don't be so committed to high-quality work that you stay extra hours on the job making sure you get things just right.
  2. Send a white guy as a stand-in for your interviews and talk into his ear using blue-tooth.
  3. Use initials if you have an ethnic name.
  4. Don't mention any awards you've received or organizations you've joined as a high achieving minority.
  5. And if all else fells, don't get a college degree. Particularly one from a prominent university.
James became neither an investment banker nor a consultant. The deeper he looked into those careers, the more he realised himself that he would not succeed. He is now a teacher just outside of Chicago where he is able to develop young minds. And Lord knows we need more black male teachers!

No, sarcasm aside, we really do need more black male teachers in our public schools. But I'm not sure I'm okay with black men going into teaching as a last resort. What are we supposed to tell our kids? You can be anything you want, just stay in your place? Cause no matter how much you accomplish, you can still be arrested in or protested against in your own home.

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But Don't Jack My Genuis