Erin was the director of a call center. She was smart, technically savvy and determined. And with all that going for her, she lacked the people skills necessary to successfully lead a team. She was consumed with numbers and statistics. Maybe that’s because numbers do not need coaching or motivation. Numbers don’t talk back, ask questions or challenge your authority. It would be numbers that almost cost Erin her job, almost.
Okay so Erin wasn’t concerned with employee morale or engagement. She felt that if her employees weren’t happy, they should find other employment. That’s a common sentiment in the workforce now-a-days.
Erin promoted the people she liked. In her eyes everyone was minimally qualified therefore it was a matter of likeability. Promotion after promotion Erin’s favorites were rewarded. It’s important to point out that Erin was Caucasian and her department was predominately African American. However no African Americans were being promoted.
After nearly 2 years and 17 promotions later, one African American employee decided enough was enough. She wanted to explain to Erin that the African American/Black employees were feeling demoralized and discriminated against because they were not being promoted.
Let’s face it, employees talk.
When you have a staff of 85% black, and you have 17 open positions, and not one black person qualifies then naturally there are going to be feelings of disparate impact or treatment and discrimination.
Erin was dismissive and told the employee that she felt that they were making the correct decisions and there was no discrimination intended. Shocker right?
What Erin failed to consider was that this employee had human resource experience and knew that they were in violation of the 80/20 rule under Title VII. Click here for more on that rule. And the law does not consider your intentions only your actions.
So the employee, did the math, ran the numbers, using an organizational chart and company directory. She guessed at the racial/ethnic background of all the employees and any that she was uncertain of she categorized as other.
No matter how many times she calculated the numbers, the adverse impact provision was violated. Wasn’t too hard, 0% passer rate!!
The employee took her numbers and complaint to HR.
All hell broke loose. A hiring freeze was placed company wide. Speculation and rumors were running rampant.
Erin’s head was on the chopping block, ironic how numbers don’t lie. When HR and legal demanded data to support her hiring decisions, Erin whom had stated she approved all promotions, had now changed her tune. She blamed the hiring managers and one of them, her buddy, ended up being fired. In the end, Erin was able to deflect responsibility.
Erin could have taken responsibility. The HR department should have keep better records and gotten involved sooner. But since the staff was mostly African American and replaceable, no one cared.