On picking the “best person” for a job

Two seemingly opposed schools of thought. “Why do we need to ensure women/minorities/etc have a seat” and “just pick the best person regardless of such. If the beat person happens to be a minority then so be it.”

Well let’s assume that the best person for a job does get selected for a job. Did that person get selected purely on merits? Were there no biases whatsoever in the selection process? Was the hired one not known at all by the employer? Highly doubtful. Speaking from experience, even something as simple as “I don’t like how your parents spelled your name” can cause subconscious biases against another.

What is the job you’re hiring for? Specifically for this post I’m referring to instances where a committee is formed and x number of genders/ethnicities/orientations are required. For example, I’ve served in situations where in a group of 10, there must be an even split of men and women, and the percentage of races and sexual orientations on the committee must be in a ratio equal to that as a society as a whole. I.e., 10% homosexual, 30% African-American, etc.

On its face, this would seem like qualified individuals are left out. “Well John Wasp has a Masters in Public Relations, but we already have our allotment of straight white men, so he’s out.” But ask yourself, what is the group trying to achieve?

If the purpose of your group is to ensure the status quo moves forward without change, then if by all means load up on those already in power. if the purpose of your group is to broadly reach out to cross-sections of society and make sure everyone is heard, then quotas are necessary and invaluable.

Further, wealth and degrees are not markers of success in and of themselves. We can all think of at least one person who is rich and reportedly well-educated, yet has the common sense of a dead goose and the decorum of a slug.

Is the purpose of your group to reach out to everyone? Is its purpose to serve the poor? Is its purpose to elevate the marginalized? If so, then the answer isn’t a board of “best men for the job” trying to understand the plight of those who are on different paths in life. It’s to have a board of individuals living in those paths. Truly the best people for a job are those living the lives we seek to reach.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *