digibyte: Labor Day Musing - HR technology will never solve stereotyping

Den Howlett Profile picture for user gonzodaddy September 6, 2015
Summary:
Stereotyping is a cancer on recruitment yet it is rarely discussed as a problem to be overcome. Technology will not help.

Last weekend I read a brilliant excoriation of millennial stereotyping in research and media by Oracle consultant Jessica Kriegel. She starts:

How would you react if you opened your browser tomorrow morning and saw an article titled: “Five Office Mistakes Costing Your 65-Year-Old Employees The Promotion”?

Personally, I would be outraged. Age discrimination, particularly against older members of our workforce, has been a problem for many years.

And yet we’re inundated with similar articles about millennials, such as “Five Office Mistakes Costing Millennials The Promotion,” “4 Tips For Keeping Millennial Employees Engaged,” and “The Five: Tips for Managing Millennials.”

And most of us don’t bat an eye.

True? I don't know empirically but it's not an unreasonable conjecture based upon what we see in what passes for media these days. Kriegel goes on to argue:

Stereotyping based on race, gender, religion, and/or nationality is simply not acceptable in corporate America, so when did it become okay to stereotype people based on their 20-year-wide age bracket?

Stereotyping is nothing new but very few people I know recognize it as the basis for all forms of people related inequality and bias. Put in Kriegel's terms:

We must begin to see this kind of research for what it really is: a fad that exaggerates generational differences in a simplistic fashion to drive book sales and internet clicks.

This is equally true of so many topics in the technology sphere but it is particularly poignant when set against the so-called war for talent. Some vendors believe they can help customers gain an edge in the recruitment space through sophisticated algorithms expressed in technology.

As far as I know, there is no software that can overcome the unseen and unquestioned impact of stereotyping that Kriegel identifies. Perhaps instead, we should look towards examples like Mark Zuckerberg, CEO Facebook who, at 31, fits squarely in the millennial bracket and ask ourselves: what can we learn?

Disclosure: Oracle is a premier partner at time of writing

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