On a number of occasions I have said, and written, that an employer can refuse to hire someone because of their appearance. As I recently discovered while being interviewed for an upcoming article, technically, I’m wrong but also, technically, I’m right. Years ago I was in Barnes and Noble heading toward the Customer Service desk. As I approached I realized there was a commotion going on. There was a young woman, probably 18 or 19, screaming at the store manager because he refused to give her a job application. “You’re discriminating against me!” she yelled. Clearly, the manager was not having any luck getting her to listen or leave so I decided to help. “I’m an executive recruiter and career counselor,” I told them. They both stopped and looked at me. “And you are absolutely right, he is discriminating against you.” I paused long enough for the manager to turn white. “And it’s perfectly legal.” “Have you ever been in a bookstore before?” I asked her. “Of course I have!” “Have you ever seen anyone who looks like you working at a bookstore?” “No,” she said, her voice quieting. “And there is a reason why. An owner or a manager has the right to determine his corporate image. You are not it. He’s not discriminating against you because you’re a woman, because you’re young,” she was wearing a cross so I added, “because you’re Christian. He’s discriminating against you because you are covered from finger tips to your neck and I can only guess how far down, with tattoos, and there does not seem to be a place on your face where there is room for another piercing. Think of it this way, have you ever seen anyone with bad teeth working in a dentist’s office? Bad skin working for a dermatologist? An obese person working at a health club? A smoker working for the Cancer Society?” “So where can I get a job?” “Grocery story stacking shelves, maybe working the checkout. I really don’t know. A tattoo parlor. But certainly not a professional office or a place attracting professionals and families. Look at the faces on the children walking by. They don’t know what to make of you.” At this point she was practically on the verge of tears. “Look. You made the decision to do this to yourself. It’s not as though you were burned or injured in a car accident. It was your decision and you have to live with the consequences.” With that she left and the manager came over to me. “I wanted to kill you,” he said with a smile on his face, “but thanks.” That’s the background. Here’s the story with the interview. It’s a piece that should be (it’s not definite so I’m not naming the publication, but if you visit the Media Center page on my website, they’ll be a link when it’s available) coming out next month on discrimination against the obese. My initial reaction was what I told the woman at Barnes and Noble, you can be “discriminating” based on appearance without “discriminating” in the legal sense. The obese are not a protected class, I said. And that was my mistake. The obese and the very tall or short are protected persons. On the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website, there is a page, “Pre-Employment Inquiries and Height & Weight,” which is clearly designed as a “Don’t contact us about this nonsense” warning. “Height and weight requirements tend to disproportionately limit the employment opportunities of some protected groups and unless the employer can demonstrate how the need is related to the job, it may be viewed as illegal under federal law. A number of states and localities have laws specifically prohibiting discrimination on the basis of height and weight unless based on actual job requirements. Therefore, unless job-related, inquires about height and weight should be avoided.” In other words, don’t bother them if you are too short, tall, thin or fat to do the job. So a short person, who can’t lift boxes that are five square feet in size because they are bigger than he is; a tall person who can’t fit in the existing work area because the ceiling is too low, the thin person (I can’t think of one for this so you fill it in!)… or the fat person who isn’t getting an interview to be a flight attendant, should not bother the EEOC. It’s not discrimination! So what’s BFOQ? Bona Fide Occupational Qualification. If it’s related to the person’s ability to do the job, the rejection is not job discrimination. You can discriminate on the basis of age in hiring police officers or fire fighters. Do you really want a 65 year-old running after the mugger or trying to carry you out of a burning building? Even pilots can’t captain commercial aircraft if they are over 60! The beauty of BFOQ is it has to be plain and simple, not some legal spin. Returning to my original thinking, the bookstore manager can reject the tattooed woman because she was scaring the children and, I hasten to add, making the mothers uncomfortable. (Personally, just looking at her – especially the piercings and the one in the tongue – made me nauseous.) So while it might not be for “corporate image” reasons, it was definitely because she would not be able to do the job. You can’t sell books or attract customers if people are uncomfortable looking at you. But I repeat, that was her decision. (And I am not going to get into the issue of whether or not someone who would do that to herself has psychiatric issues and therefore should be protected under, for example, the Americans with Disabilities Act.) My reaction if she had burns, or was a disabled vet, would be entirely different. In that case, I would say hire the person and use it as a learning experience for children and their parents. Image Credit: Shutterstock
A lot of workplaces have made great process with diversity and inclusion, particularly with creating a welcoming and collaborative environment for the LGBTQ+ community.
While there's always room for improvement in the future, there are several companies already setting a great example. Here's a look at a handful of these companies.
Reply to @annie_kay4532 Hiring remote job seekers & major LGBTQ+ ally!#Pride #PrideAnthems #hiring #bestplacetowork #remote #hiringnow #applynow
Adobe is the global leader in digital media and digital marketing solutions and has built a reputation for having a strong company culture. Adobe has a culture score of 4.9/5 on employee review website Comparably and has been recognized on multiple occasions by Comparably for company culture, company leadership, and diversity,
Adobe has also won a few awards for its commitment to the LGBTQ+ community, including being named a "Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality" by the Human Rights Campaign. The AdobeProud network in the UK received the Rainbow Honours LGBTQ Network Group award for its commitment to equality and positive impact on the workplace experience.
Adobe has several employee resource groups (ERGs) for employees, including AdobeProud, which is an employee network for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer colleagues and allies. The group works to protect LGBTQ+ rights in the workplace, support each other, and engage in community events.
Members of the group often participate in Pride marches in the U.S. and globally, panel discussions, networking events, and fundraising activities. The group also raises money for LGBTQ+ charities and advocacy groups.
Adobe is hiring for multiple positions globally, including remote positions. Check out Adobe's careers page.
(Photo from HubSpot.com)
HubSpot is a leading customer relationship management platform that provides software and support to help businesses grow. HubSpot has a culture score of 4.9/5 on Comparably and has won awards from Comparably for company culture and diversity. The company has also won numerous other company culture and diversity awards from other organizations.
According to HubSpot's 2021 Diversity, Inclusion, & Belonging Report, 12% of HubSpot's workforce identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community. HubSpot has an employee resource group called the LGBTQ Alliance that aims to empower HubSpotters through the creation of a safe, respectful community.
Alliance members participate in multiple events year-round with a variety of global initiatives, including breakfast roundtables to talk about current issues facing the LGBTQ+ community, a workshop on partner benefits and family planning, or any other number of employee events. HubSpot employees have also marched in Pride Parades in Boston, Berlin, Dublin, and Portsmouth.
HubSpot is hiring for multiple positions globally, including remote positions. Check out HubSpot's careers page.
(Photo from PayPal.com)
PayPal is a major online payments system that supports online money transfers globally and serves as an electronic alternative to traditional paper methods like checks and money orders.
PayPal made some major headlines in 2016 when it canceled plans to open its global operations center in Charlotte, North Carolina in response to a passed law in North Carolina that would prevent local governments from banning discrimination based on sexual orientation.
"This decision reflects PayPal's deepest values and our strong belief that every person has the right to be treated equally, and with dignity and respect. Our decision is a clear and unambiguous one," PayPal CEO Dan Schulman said at the time.
PayPal has an LGBTQ+ network called PayPal Pride which celebrates and furthers the company's commitment to diversity & inclusion. PayPal Pride has16 chapters across six countries. The Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index has named PayPal on multiple occasions one of its "Best Places to Work" for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees. The company has even earned a perfect score on the index.
PayPal is hiring for multiple positions globally. Check out PayPal's careers page.
(Photo from Salesforce.com)
Salesforce is the world's top cloud-based customer relationship management platform.
Salesforce has earned a culture score of 4.7/5 on Comparably and has won Comparably awards for diversity and company culture. The Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index has recognized Salesforce on multiple occasions for being a best place to work for the LGBTQ community.
Salesforce has multiple employee resource groups to help bring underrepresented groups together and improve the company's culture. Outforce is the ERG for Salesforce's LGBTQ+ community. Overall, Salesforce is committed to building a workforce that reflects society.
Currently, 47.7% of Salesforce's U.S. workforce is made up of underrepresented groups (Women, Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Multiracial, LGBTQ+ employees, People with Disabilities, and Veterans). The company is focused on meeting the following diversity goals by 2023:
- To have 50% of the U.S. workforce made up of underrepresented groups (Women, Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Multiracial, LGBTQ+ employees, People with Disabilities, and Veterans)
- To double the U.S. representation of Black leaders (VP+) and increase the representation of underrepresented minority (Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and Multiracial) leaders by 50% by 2023
- To increase U.S. representation of underrepresented minority (Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and Multiracial) employees by 50% by 2023
Intel is one of the largest computer hardware and software companies in the world.
Like many of the other companies on this list, Intel is a consistent presence on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index as a best workplace for the LGBTQ community. Intel's IGLOBE (Intel Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or Transgender Employees) was the company's first-ever employee resource group.
IGLOBE has 13 chapters globally and actively drives awareness of issues impacting the LGBTQ+ community and serves as a support network for its members.
The group has a mentorship program where experienced Intel workers can mentor new workers who are also members of the LGBTQ+ community. Intel also has partnerships with the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and the Out and Equal Workplace Summit—where employees and experts from around the world gather to share strategies and best practices to create workplace equality, inclusive of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and expressions.
Intel is hiring for multiple positions globally. Check out Intel's careers page.
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So, you know it is important to have the two Qs as you build out your network: quality and quantity. But have you considered the importance of having a well-rounded network?
In this labor market, having a strong network is critical to your career success. There are plenty of tips and articles on where to find people, how and when to connect with them, and even what you need to say to attract and maintain your network. This article focuses on who should be in your network.
Here are the top 10 people that should be in your network, no matter if you're looking for a job or happy in your current position—because every job is temporary!
1. The Mentor
This is the person who has reached the level of success you aspire to have. You can learn from their successes as well as their mistakes. Heed their wisdom and experience. This relationship offers a unique perspective because they have known you through several peaks and valleys in your life and watched you evolve.
2. The Coach
The coach is someone who comes in at different times in your life. They help with critical decisions and transitions and offer an objective perspective with no strings attached.
3. The Industry Insider
This is someone in your chosen field who has expert-level information or access to it. This person will keep you informed on what's happening now and what the next big thing is. Invite them to be a sounding board for your next innovative idea.
4. The Trendsetter
This is someone outside of your chosen industry that always has the latest buzz. It can be on any topic you find interesting. The goal in having this person in your network is to look for those connections that spark innovation via the unconventional. It will also help you keep your conversations interesting.
5. The Connector
This is a person who has access to people, resources, and information. As soon as they come across something related to you, they are sending you an email or picking up the phone. Connectors are great at uncovering unique ways to make connections, finding resources and opportunities most people would over look.
6. The Idealist
This is the person in your network you can dream with. No matter how "out there" your latest idea is, this is the person that will help you brainstorm ways to make it happen. Without judgment, they are focused on helping you flesh out your dreams in high definition, even if you don't have a solid plan yet on how to make it happen.
7. The Realist
On the flip side, you still need the person who will help you keep it real. This is the person who will give you the raised eyebrow when your expectations are a little to unrealistic and need some grounding. These are not people who knock down your dreams; rather, they challenge you to actively make your dreams happen.
8. The Visionary
Visionary people inspire you by their journey. They are similar to the Idealist, but the visionary can help you envision an actual plan to reach your goal. One personal encounter with this type of person can powerfully change the direction of your thinking and life.
9. The Partner
You need to have someone who is in a similar place and on a similar path to share with. In fact, partners do a lot of sharing. This is a person you can share the wins and woes with. Partners will also share resources, opportunities, and information.
10. The Wanna-Be
This is someone you can serve as a mentor. Someone you can help shape and guide based on your experiences. One of the best ways to tell you understand something is to be able to explain it to someone else. And sometimes, one of the best motivators for pushing through obstacles and hardship is knowing someone is watching.
Obviously, you will want to have more than 10 people in your network. The trick is to make sure you are building a diverse network by adding people from different industries, backgrounds, age groups, ethnic groups, and so on that fit into the roles listed above.
Building a deep network by only including people from your current profession or business focus leaves too many stones unturned, limiting potential opportunities. Serious about building a strong professional network that can actually provide the leverage you need to make progress at work and the connections to land your dream job? Evaluate your current network and get started filling in the gaps. Happy networking!
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