Monday, October 08, 2007

Perhaps the most insideous business advice ever published

As a "guest columnist" for the Boston Globe, David D'Alessandro, former CEO of John Handcock Financial Services, provides his sage advice to fellow executives "when a management person is unable to fill a key position with an African-American."

Maybe he should have kept the advice to himself. D'Alessandro's solution to The great lie in African-American hiring:

The answer goes something like this. Whenever a job opening occurs and the company is short on African-American employees, the manager is given the following directive: "You will find and hire a qualified black person. I don't care how long it takes. They are out there and you will find one. And by the way, do not hire one who is destined to fail just to fill the slot. I am holding you personally responsible for that individual's success. Your job is on the line if that person doesn't make it." Amazing how quickly managers miraculously accomplish this task. I have tried it many times. Never fails.

D'Alessandro's touted practice is disturbing on several levels.

First, Mr. D'Alessandro makes it obvious he views himself as above the task of recruiting African-Americans into his company's employ; that is, it's always somebody else's job.

Second, he has in fact made it a company policy to institute entirely race-based hiring.

Third, he has repeatedly held the employment of one employee "on the line" so that another, presumably of a different racial group, "makes it".

Beside the actual discrimination of the directive itself, doesn't it seems obvious that such a policy would engender inter-racial resentment within the company?

For example, if the presumably non-black managers that D'Alessandro does hire and fire are as shiftlessly expedient as he implies, wouldn't those managers simply structure the workload of the employee of the preferred race so that he or she would not be tested, while moving responsibility to members of the non-preferred race, where accountability could be enforced?

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