Just weeks away from the big vote, our media is awash with speculation, reports and policies, and conversations are centred on the big personalities with their uncomfortable attempts at winning voters’ affections. But it’s public attitudes to the election that are proving the real farce.
Stereotypes. We’re a nation of equality and strong anti-discriminatory ideals, but with buzzwords like “untrustworthy” and the ever-damning “they’re all the same” bouncing to and fro, it’s clear our politicians carry labels that brand the whole pack. And it’s not an isolated practice. Sweeping generalisations infiltrate all areas of business: including the way we hire.
These embedded prejudices now pass as ‘criteria’ for job roles. As a recruiter, my biggest headache is challenging stereotypes under the guise of tricky job specs. We’re part of an industry where demanding 1sts and 2:1s is the norm; where certain universities are blacklisted and anyone undertaking a golf course management degree can walk away right now.
OK, so a lot of stereotypes have foundations in fact. Nineteen of our nation’s prime ministers have been Eton alumni, and I can’t say many star players in business took a degree in Harry Potter studies. But tarring all with the same brush closes the recruitment funnel, and it not only makes my job harder - it stops businesses getting their hands on some real gems.
Do we really believe graduates with a 2:2 or 3rd are second-rate? That a degree decision made at 18 is a real indication of ability? The idea is ludicrous. As an employer of a top performer with a 3rd in communication studies, I’ll testify to it! When I get a great candidate, I know. So why am I strategically ‘withholding the truth’ when putting a 2:2 drama grad in front of a client?
Stereotypes shouldn’t play a role in recruitment, but we let them slide. If there’s one thing modern politics can teach us, it’s that there’s no such a thing as red/blue or right/left. A 1st is just one piece of a much bigger puzzle.
We may be a while off having a C-grade high school leaver running for PM, but I bet there’s a hugely driven, sharp and politically minded kid out there who could do the job. So before adding that extra requirement to the job spec, ask the question. Are you slamming the door on the basis of need, or perception?