To some extent, Commission Remains Determined
to Impose Utopian Standards on Employers
Recently the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission uploaded onto its website "best practices" for employers to follow to eradicate religious discrimination. "Best practices" is an MBA catchphrase that about ten years ago corporate America adopted first to production and management generally, than to human resources administration in particular. In reality, any practice that keeps managers out of the courtroom is the "best"; twenty years ago it was enough to be in compliance. "Best" is a qualifier that speaks of the superlative, so that there is no more "good" or "better", much as any new condominium high-rise under construction is "luxury." So as one looks in vain for new condos that are less than "luxury," EEOC wants employers to aspire to the "best."
We see compliance as "sufficient practices," but before one can consider compliance, much less what is the "best," one must look at the guidelines the Commission has published. The ideas are not new, and the refusal to understand how people management cannot easily proceed using the Commission's models, is as frustrating as ever.
Following is the first set of bullets from the EEOC website on this point, with our comments:
THE COMMISSION HAS BEEN URGING OBJECTIVE CRITERIA FOR HIRE AND PROMOTION FOR YEARS. OBVIOUSLY OBJECTIVE MEASUREMENTS MATTER, BUT TO SUGGEST THAT NO SUBJECTIVE PERCEPTIONS, HUNCHES, INSTINCTS, AND GUT REACTIONS MATTER ALSO, IS TO OVERLOOK EVERYDAY LIFE FOR MANAGERS.
SUCH AN APPROACH TO JOB INTERVIEWS IS EXACTLY THE WRONG WAY TO GO. ASKING THE SAME QUESTIONS OF EACH APPLICANT ENSURES CONSTRICTED AND ONE-DIMENSIONAL BEHAVIOR FROM THE APPLICANT AND SUPERFICIAL PERCEPTIONS AND ANALYTICAL THINKING FROM THE RECRUITER. ALSO, CONFINEMENT OF THE INQUIRY TO 'DIRECTLY RELATED' MATTERS IS NONSENSE. THE MOST IMPORTANT PART - PERHAPS THE ONLY IMPORTANT PART - OF AN INTERVIEW WITH AN APPLICANT IS THE MANAGER'S INVESTIGATION OF WHAT THE APPLICANT IS LIKE, HOW HE BEHAVES, AND WHETHER HE HAS THE QUALITIES THAT WILL ENABLE HIM TO FIT IN AND ENABLE THE ORGANIZATION TO BRING OUT THE - - - BEST.
THIS ACTUALLY IS SOUND ADVICE. OF COURSE, ANY MANAGER WITH HALF A BRAIN KNOWS OF THIS METHOD AS IT APPLIES TO ALL POTENTIAL LEGAL PROBLEMS.
SEE THE PRECEDING COMMENT.
HOW AN EMPLOYER IS SUPPOSED TO ENGAGE WITH CUSTOMERS 'REGARDING ANY MISPERCEPTIONS' THEY MAY HAVE IS UNCLEAR. IT IS SUFFICIENT TO SAY: "I UNDERSTAND THAT YOU OBJECTED TO MR. X VISITING YOUR FACILITY BECAUSE OF HIS APPEARANCE. HE IS ONE OF OUR BEST AND BRIGHTEST AND HIS CLOTHING IS WHAT HE CHOOSES TO WEAR AS A MUSLIM. HE HAS PROVIDED YOU THE SERVICES YOUR MANAGERS REQUESTED AND THEN SOME. I AM SURE YOU CAN APPRECIATE OUR WILLINGNESS (AND OBLIGATION UNDER THE LAW) TO ACCOMMODATE HIS RELIGIOUS BELIEFS. WE EXPECT OUR CUSTOMERS TO DO THE SAME.'