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[flagged] My startup has an unofficial hiring policy based on race. Is this normal/legal?
12 points by satellites 8 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 16 comments
This is going to sound like troll bait, so I'll start off with a disclaimer: I fully support organizational diversity and I think any tech company would be better off with more women and nonwhite people in its ranks. I want to have a frank discussion about an important subject, not start a political mud-slinging match, so take that elsewhere.

Here goes:

My startup of ~10 people is outright rejecting all candidates and referrals who are white males. (Yes, really). We just got our series A and have been expanding our personnel, but off the record, management and investors are concerned about the optics of having a company with only white dudes (the company is currently 100% white males). We are still a young enough company where leadership has candor with the rank-and-file engineers such that they feel comfortable being honest with us about this.

As a result, in a meeting yesterday afternoon, engineers were specifically told to stop referring candidates from our networks who are white males. They will immediately be rejected.

Has anyone else experienced this in a young company? How did it go? How common is this approach generally? Is a policy like this ethical and/or legal?

Once more, please keep it civil - I know it's a controversial subject, but I'm interested in a thoughtful discussion, not in arguing with trolls. Thanks.

This is 100% illegal and as others noted, can subject the company and even its investors/founders and others to serious liability. This is not the correct approach, at all

Regardless of the intentions behind this, this is very, very illegal(if you are in the US) and could open the company up to some serious liability down the line.

It's not ethical or legal. It's my impression that what large companies do is tie manager pay and promotion to diversity goals, so that the managers are incentivized to ignore resumes from candidates with the wrong demographics. I don't think that is ethical or legal either, but it is unlikely that the current administration will file civil rights suits on behalf of whites or men.

It is illegal. Do you not know how to Google it?


I think you're probably correct, but the page you linked does have this line:

"For example, an employer's reliance on word-of-mouth recruitment by its mostly Hispanic work force may violate the law if the result is that almost all new hires are Hispanic."

Most of our hires were word-of-mouth, so it might raise those red flags. However, we have all open positions listed publicly, so maybe that doesn't apply.

I've noticed that this post has been flagged - can any mods chime in as to why? I'm wondering if I could have worded it better, or if this topic in general gets flagged no matter what due to the potential for trolling. Thanks.

There is nothing to discuss if you dont have rank.

>I think any tech company would be better off with more women and nonwhite people


Do you have a source for your claim?

FWIW, while I don't have citations handy, I definitely remember reading several things over the last few years mentioning research showing that teams that are more diverse tend to make better decisions. Now if you're overly cynical, you can think whatever you want about that research or whatever... but it does exist, at least to some extent.

If you had to choose a heart surgeon, would you do so based on their skill or on their skin color?

If heart surgery were a project performed by dozens of people over an extended period of time, then it would be better to have a more diverse group of people for better overall outcomes.

But since you're talking about choosing one heart surgeon for a procedure that takes a few hours, the analogy is flawed and doesn't really apply to the discussion.


People of color experience more discrimination and a greater chance of negative outcomes in the U.S. healthcare industry. This is well known among affected communities, and there is a large body of knowledge around the subject. It stands to reason that a more diverse workforce in said industry would mitigate that, at least partially.

So, I encourage you to at least entertain the notion before you cover your ears. The macro view of general outcomes in a system is different than an individual micro-level choice. Of course any individual hire for a skilled role should be merit-based first and foremost. That being true doesn't invalidate the entire discussion around the importance of diversity in organizations, but you'd very much like it to, I can tell.

>but you'd very much like it to, I can tell.

What race am I?

That has nothing whatsoever to do with the question at hand.

Here's what can go wrong if you don't have a variety of viewpoints into your decision-making process: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/23/technology/smart-home-dev...

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