Hiring is one of the most time consuming and agonizing responsibilities of the small business owner. We are often confronted with candidates with nearly identical categories of knowledge, skills and abilities.
How does the business owner pick just one? The one right person?
Brad Feld and Your Business Blogger have different approaches.
Brad Feld has about the best blog published for early stage companies. But I have a (rare) disagreement with him. The National Center for Women in Information Technology, NCWIT, appointed a male as the board chair. The gentleman, Brad reports, was the most qualified. And this may very well have been true.
But is competence the only criterion in hiring?
Equal Employment Opportunity
Over the years, I have been faced with this question. In two different companies, I hired a gay man and a woman, both with health concerns. In each hiring decision I had a short list of candidates who were nearly equal in track records and salary requirements.
In these two instances I hired the second best resume.
I hired not the best resume, but the best person.
Another smart Brad, Brad Reynolds, was Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights under President Reagan. We once had a conversation about hiring practices. He gave me some sound advice:
When two identical candidates are being interviewed, choose the one who had to come over the roughest road to get to you.
How hard was it for the job seeker to conduct her job search? To get in my office? What hurdles? What hassles?
Group Rights vs. Individual Effort
We hear a lot of mis-information about treatment for different groups, different associations, anyone in plaid pants. But there are individuals who have had unusual life challenges and have had to negotiate a more difficult trail.
I would suggest that a woman should have been selected to chair the women’s organization, “to ensure that women are fully represented,” as claimed in their mission statement. A woman rather a man because, I would submit, she had a tougher row to hoe to get to the candidate pool then to the board. A woman would have been the best person.
The characteristics that drove her to get herself in front of the selection committee, would be the very qualities needed to make the organization a success.
This is not how a large company personnel department would make recommendations. In this small business hiring case study, Brad and I would have chosen different genders for the job.
The National Center for Women in Information Technology should have appointed a woman as chair.