Employment, Discrimination and Human Rights

I was lucky when I was young and just starting my first job – there was plenty of work. Besides that, I worked in healthcare, so I didn’t need to apply in response to advertisements. I simply wrote to the hospital, told them what I could do for them and that was it.
Today’s young people are not that lucky. There is massive unemployment – I don’t have to go into detail about it.

My concern in this post is with the recruiting. As my children are applying for jobs, I read job descriptions and get feedback on interview procedures and it does nothing for my confidence in the process.

Just like the housing market can be a buyers or a sellers market – and accordingly each can make (outrageous) demands that influence the value of property and so change ‘reality’ – so the job market is one of supply and demand.
Today recruiters and employers believe they have the power to bend reality to their wishes. Nine out of ten times, the job descriptions listed seem to be a compilation of desirable looking personality traits and talents – that do NOT come in the same type of person – which contain all the fashionable slogans, and which they clearly gathered by going ‘shopping’ on other websites and put together as a sort of (pages long) wish list.

What they don’t realize is that unlike property values that are an economical statistic, people are real and you cannot change the psychological make-up of a person. Therefore, they are not doing their business or organization any favours when trying to artificially alter the values for the suitable employee.
For example, if you are hiring for a proofreading job, you do not need all the extraverted qualities that make for an “outgoing team member”, because those tend to not be very proofreaders.
At the same time, the potential candidates are made to feel unnecessarily nervous and inadequate, because although they might easily be able to perform the actual tasks required for the job, they feel that they cannot match the fantasy personality wished for in the description.

That results in either one of two scenarios: Employers can’t find anybody suitable when they do interviews and then start complaining that it is so hard to find “good” people. This then gets reported to the media, who spit the information back out, so that those looking for jobs are made to feel even more inadequate.
Or they hire a person who seems to have all those wished for traits in one person, because some people can bullshit their way in, which then leads to disappointment in performance.

Now employers may simply be naïve about human psychology, but recruiters should know this. Of course, recruitment agencies are institutions that have sprung up to mediate where supply outnumbers demand, claiming to be able to help employers pick the right candidates, with the intention of striking up a bit of profit in the process.
Many employment agencies, claiming to test for personality, use one-off assessments – ignoring the fact that personalities are not one-off events. Most of those tests are pre-programmed in a computer and adjusted for the expectation that people exaggerate (or lie) when applying for a job, and are consequently biased to the programmer’s interpretation of human personality. The people interviewing candidates usually have no understanding of the psychology behind the test other than to stick it in the computer and read out the result.
This has led to a gross falsification of personality traits and pre-emptive dismissal of suitable candidates. For example, an ISTJ – the most dependable and punctual of all human types, who would never exaggerate or lie about his skills – is being turned down for being “unreliable” as a result of the test having assumed they would lie and so doesn’t get the job they are best suited for. And the employer doesn’t get the candidate that is best for the job, because he trusted an agency that is incompetent.

This is a human rights issue, because this recruiter is actively discriminating against honest people – discrimination on the basis of personality.

The Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, which is the moral code most countries claim to adhere to, states that

Article 22
Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensible for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

Article 23
(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

Okay, so it doesn’t actually say that employers are not allowed to discriminate for personality when hiring. But since in our society both “dignity” and “social security” rely on having a job, and everybody is “entitled to realization…of…. the free development of his personality”, should that not include respecting each personality equally?

Additionally, today discrimination goes a lot further than simple ignorance about psychology.
There are an increasing number of employers that insist that their employees reveals their social media connections. Presumably this is because they don’t want people to play on the internet during work, but this is a direct and purposeful violation of article 12 of the Human Rights Act.

Article 12
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

They may argue that there is no forced interference; that people submit this information freely, but that is a deception in a climate where jobs are scarce and thus, people are forced to submit to the (outrageous) demands of employers in order to have any chance at all. So this is coercion at the very least.

Then there are recruiters (and possibly employers as well) who under the misconception that bullies don’t have friends – which is actually not true; they tend to have hundreds of wannabe followers – will actively select their candidates on the amount of Facebook friends one has or on having a Facebook account at all.
What they are effectively doing is discriminate against victims of bullying, who don’t have Facebook accounts –as those are used to bully them – as well as against introverts, who wouldn’t go chatting during work time and who tend to be less interested in gathering hundreds of ‘friends’.

In Australia some well-intentioned people started a black-list of names of known school bullies, so as to prevent employers from hiring people who could turn out to be bullies in the work place, but again, this is based on a false belief: the belief that schools can provide those names. But most schools are not aware of who is involved in bullying because bullying tends to be a group event (many bullies against one victim) and most schools send the victim to the counsellor – not the bullies, who tend to be the popular kids.
So employers and (especially) recruiters, because those make it their job to select for sociability, use the social media to actively discriminate against personality types, and in doing so they favour bullies.

If you recognize these tendencies, please forward this post on to any recruiter, employer or anybody else who is currently involved with recruitment, writing job descriptions or looking for a job, and so help me create awareness and a more honest and fair employment market.

Thank you for reading.