Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Unspoken Truths

“Damn! So you’re saying that even if we do, do what’s right, we still have an uphill battle?”
“Sad but true, DK." Quentin threw his hand up. "And another thing: I didn’t know if you caught this, but there was a show—I forget the name—where they had a black male and a white male apply for the same position. Similar in credentials, but the white male had a long criminal history and the black male had no criminal record. Guess who got the job?”
“Damn, man. They would rather hire a criminal over a good brother.”
“Just some things we see in the business, man. I tell my clients, when they encounter this, to keep their chin up and move on. It probably wasn’t the place where they would want to work, or where they would have a chance of being successful anyway. . . .” — Black Coffee excerptChapter 21, The Plagues

Unspoken truths; dangerous ground for those that deny its existence; precarious circumstances for those that face its danger. 

Photo Credit: iStockPhoto/alex-mit

Are there two sets of hiring standards for men? 

The excerpt describes what many of us already knew or may have experienced at some point in our life or career: Stereotypes and Biases in the workplace; especially in hiring practices—one of many unspoken truths. That's why the Council of State Governments, Justice Center's article, "Researchers Examine Effects of a Criminal Record on Prospects for Employment," comes as no surprise. It just validates the truth that so many, especially men of color, face during their quest for gainful employment.

Outside of the fact that the report (based off of a 3-year University of Arizona study) focused, primarily, on the impact of having a criminal record when seeking employment; the reasearch found that individuals with criminal backgrounds were viewed by employers as having poor attendance, substance abuse issues, and relational problems with their employers. But the most noteworthy finding (one of three key findings) was that white men, with criminal backgrounds, received better employment responses than black men with no criminal background.

With this in mind, one must ask: If a white male, hired with a criminal background, is viewed as having substance abuse issues, employer/employee relational concerns, and poor punctuality and attendance problems; what are the biases, stereotypes, and logic that would "prevent" an employer from hiring a Hispanic or black male (with similar credentials) without a criminal background?

Author, R.L. Byrd

Part of the Project H.U.S.H initiative. To find out more, visit HUSH

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