Discrimination: Numbers vs. Observation

I looked at some stats related to job market discrimination and found myself at awe by them. The sexy talk is workforce discrimination of women.


The stats I saw from multiple sources average a disparity of 81 cents to a dollar. When it comes to promotions, the stats suggest that women are unfairly looked over – for some reason; I find this very hard to believe.
Here is a moment where I surmise skewed stats that camoflouge a truer story. From my point of view and 25 years in the workforce, I’ve seen quite the opposite. Since I was sixteen years old, I’ve worked for 22 companies. In all those times, just one – the Atlanta Hilton & Towers – had a male human resource manager in charge of hiring. A second company, very bureaucratic, had a male HR executive high up the latter (a good guy, if I may add).


As for bosses and direct reports, I’ve found myself a subordinate to female superiors, 91% of my workforce life. I even had a female captain for my artillery unit in Fort Sill, Oklahoma. So, I shake my head, trying to understand the stats on female promotions.


What I’ve experienced and witnessed more often is racial discrimination against African American men. I’ve sat on interview panels and found myself appalled at various candidates selections for promotions. Here are the top three WTF questions I’ve heard asked in an interview.

  1. We like to eat and have potlucks. What would you bring to our next one?
  2. How important is it for you to smile when you give a subordinate written discipline?
  3. What is your favorite day of the week?

Once I questioned a person about her resume. It claimed that she had a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers in Social Science, and she currently studied software engineering. I asked her why she interviewed with us for a $14 per hour job in the absence of seeking a career in social work. I later asked her to read data from a chart and draw a conclusion from it. Not only did her answer to my first question fall short of what I’d expect from an 8th grader, but she also failed to identify patterns from the data. I voted against her because the company is moving toward data-driven decision making (so they say). Outvoted 3 to 1, the general consensous was that I should look beyond the numbers. Six months later, they demoted the candidate.
I’ve sat on panels that outvoted me after I exposed candidates who claimed on their resume, they were Microsoft efficient but did not know what a COUNTIF function was.


There was a guy (I will change his name to Tyrone) who worked for a billion-dollar company (I will change its name to FAST DELIVERY) that did not promote him when he was the only sensible option. Tyrone is an African American with two master’s degrees. He has eight years of management experience before joining Fast Delivery, where he became a supervisor. Had his name been Gonzalez and not Washington, he believes he would be a manager or even director of operations after four years with Fast Delivery.


According to his story, His office lost a manager. Rather than giving him an option to apply, the upper management closed position. When the director left the company, rather than allowing Tyrone to apply for the director’s job, the higher-ups (all women – one Hispanic) reopened the manager’s position. To put salt in the womb, they informed Tyrone that the company had too many managers, and they wanted to bring someone in from New York to backfill the manager’s position. Ironically or intentionally, the vacated position in New York was then backfilled with someone from within that office. In this case, both the woman from New York and the male who filled her position were Hispanic.


Before this, to Tyrone’s dismay, he was passed over by a white female and a white male from outside the company. That man left the company in two weeks for a higher paying job, and his position was filled by another white male from outside the company. In the meanwhile, there were two other African American men that he knew passed over.


It may be easy to say that Tyrone wasn’t qualified; however, his contributions to Fast Delivery are far more than his colleagues. His annual review claimed that he exceeded expectations in 12 of 22 categories. What inspired Tyrone to tell me his story was that after spurned a fifth time, he began to notice a pattern and found three other African American men with management and supervisory experience passed over by women or Hispanics.


I encouraged Tyrone to make inquiries to the EEOC, but he – being as calculating as he is – decided against it due to the stats. 82% of claims with the EEOC are thrown out.

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