Monday, April 29, 2019

I REALLY thought people knew better not to advertise jobs “for whites”

Cynet Systems, an IT and engineering staffing company, had a viral mess on its hands over the weekend, after it posted a job that asked for candidates “Preferably Caucasian.”

Helana McCabe asked a very simple question on Twitter:

Uh, hey @cynetjobs - what’s with this? 
Your job listing for a mid-senior level business development position’s top qualification is “Preferably Caucasian” 
How could you POSSIBLY think that’s okay?

Uh, hey, it’s very, VERY, not okay.

Her tweet, at the time of publication, received 11,249 likes, 6,752 retweets, and 622 comments.

It took Cynet Systems 44 hours(!) to respond, with this tweet:

Cynet apologizes for the anger & frustration caused by the offensive job post. It does not reflect our core values of inclusivity & equality. The individuals involved have been terminated. We will take this as a learning experience & will continue to serve our diverse community.

Its CEO, Nikhil (Nick) Budhiraja, initially tweeted that the job posting was a “terrible mistake,” and that the person responsible had been sent for retraining. Apparently, someone told him that the company needed to take a stronger stand against racism, because that tweet no longer exists, and “sent for retraining” is now “terminated.”

A few thoughts.

First, what the holy hell? Do we not know better in 2019 (not to mention, 2009, or 1999, or 1969 … or, really, ever) that we can’t advertise jobs for “Caucasians”? This is HR 101. There should not be any lesson that needs to be taught here, period.

Secondly, you can prefer age, sex, religion, or national origin, but only if it’s a bona fide occupational qualification for the position. To qualify as a BFOQ, a job qualification must relate to the essence, or to the central mission, of the employer’s business. A classic example of a BFOQ is safety-based mandatory retirement ages for airline pilots. Race or color, however, can never, ever be a BFOQ.

Thirdly, this is not a training problem. If your recruiters do not know that they cannot prefer White candidates, they should not be recruiting for you.

Finally, 44 hours is way too late to respond to a 2019 crisis. When a story goes viral, your company needs to get out in front of it immediately. As bad as this crisis is, Cynet Systems made it that much worse by waiting almost two full days to publish its response. Cynet Systems has now been labeled as a racist company. The offensive job posting certainly created that perception, but its 44-hour delay in responding let the story, and the perception it created, percolate and fester. Every hour you let a viral story go un-responded-to adds time exponentially to undo the harm, if it can ever be truly undone.

So, let this be a lesson to you and your business. Know who’s hiring for you,  know what they are posting, and do not wait to respond to bad press or bad social media.

* Image by Arthur S. Siegel - This image is available from the United States Library of Congress‘s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID fsa.8d13572.This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. See Commons:Licensing for more information., Public Domain, Link