5150 Business Strategy

Life in the Corporate Fast Lane and Still Remaining Intelligent

Learn to Duck – Part 2

Continuing the theme of the last post, the same CFO at a landscape architecture firm showed monumental bad judgement when it came to hiring practices and, once again, I took the shit as it hit the fan.

I was responsible for hiring a government accountant to support our federal contracts. After an extensive interview process I made an offer to the best qualified person. So happens the person was female and after accepting my offer of employment she disclosed that she was pregnant.

CFO comes into my office and first words out of her mouth are, “How could you hire a pregnant women. Couldn’t you tell?”. After the urge to bitch slap her passed I let her know couple of things:

  1. I hire the best person for any job, period.
  2. Last time I checked not being pregnant was not a bona fide occupational qualification
  3. She should build a bridge and get over it

She couldn’t get over it though as she visited me daily with new ideas of how to retract the offer, none of which were legal. Of course she wanted me to implement these illegal tactics, but I declined given her propensity to duck when shit hit the fan. No doubt had I retracted this offer and the person were to file a claim with the Department of Labor she would have wanted to know what the hell I was thinking.

The thing that amazed me to this day is that the CFO was a woman, hear me roar!! She had no problem playing the feminist card when it suited her but I found it reprehensible that she so easily abandoned her “principles” when there was pressure to do so.

Yes, there were others in upper management who were calling for the new hires head – she should have told us she was pregnant was the most common refrain. Followed by, you should have known she was pregnant – as if this was supposed to somehow guide me away from the most qualified candidate. Silly me, I thought the measure of success was filling the position with the best person regardless of age, sex, race or, in this case,  pregnancy.

Next time I guess the proper course of action is to supply all female candidates with a pregnancy test kit – no, not as a condition of employment but we will view your refusal as a personality defect and, therefore, may not find you suitable for the position!!! Obviously, it draws into question a candidates moral turpitude – you let yourself get pregnant when you needed to work, shame on you.

The entire episode illustrated the dirty little corporate secret of discrimination against females who are pregnant, or who might have a higher likelihood of getting pregnant. Instead of racial profiling there is pregnancy profiling – hiring based upon demographics that indicate someone might get pregnant and leave the firm in the lurch when they go on maternity leave. As this episode also illustrated, the discrimination is not confined to males but occurs at the senior management level and crossed gender lines. Ignorance, it seems, knows no bounds – it appears to be an equal opportunity defect.

I weathered the storm, the person I hired remained employed, went on maternity leave, returned to the firm, and is still working at the firm today. Of course, I left the firm for various reasons but feel vindicated that my hire remains employed – I guess she turned out to be the right person for the job after all!!

Lesson learned: hire the best person for the job as surrounding yourself with the best inevitably makes your job easier.

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