I recently spoke with a friend who told me that they were interviewing a potential developer with other members of her team. After the interview, the friend sat with her teammates and discussed the candidate. Some moments later, their boss walked into the room and informed them that they needed to interview a different person for the position because he wanted this position to be a “diversity hire.”
My friend and her teammates were confused. This is the first she and her colleagues had heard about this position being a “diversity hire”; in fact, it was the first time she or any one of them had heard about any sort of diversity efforts at the company at all. So naturally their response was, “WTF?!” They weren’t at all opposed to the idea of diversity, in fact they were strongly committed to it, but the approach seemed entirely out of left field and altogether questionable.
When my friend related the story to me the conclusions I drew were manifold, here are a few:
- If your company has a diversity policy that no one has ever seen or heard of, then your company does not have a diversity policy.
- If you don’t have a professional HR department and structures in place for employees to be educated about and report discrimination that occurs on the job site, you do not have “plan for diversity”.
- If you are trying to hire “for diversity” and you have no clear plan, then you are not “hiring for diversity”. You are hiring to assuage guilt or stroke your ego. Or (most likely) hiring to create some stock image of diversity that you can gaze your eyes upon and pat your back about.
- Just because you have hired (or feel strongly that you’d like to hire) a person from an underrepresented group in tech doesn’t mean you have any commitment to diversity.
- Using the word “diversity” a lot does not mean you care about diversity.