Culture: A View of Success

What happens when your view of success gets in the way of success?

When you think of what success looks like, what comes to mind? Male? Female? Tall? Skinny? Athletic?

Anyone in any industry that has hiring responsibilities faces this very question whenever they need to fill a position. What is amazing is they don’t know or don’t care how their view of success impacts the hiring process, many times in a negative way.

When it isn’t that individual’s view of success, there are always reasons not to hire. It’s usually wrapped around someone’s “gut feeling”. Of course, “gut feelings” aren’t something that appears on a resume. Nor or there questions that can pinpoint anything having to do with a “gut feeling”. Even when the person is more qualified and/or interviewed better than the individual wants to hire, they get derailed by the “right fit” excuse.

“Yeah I know person X is more qualified but I feel like person Y is the right fit for our team”.

The reality is this. There’s no such thing as “most qualified”. Very simply, can you hiring manager justify hiring this person for the tasks. Notice it has nothing to do with comparing one candidate to another candidate. It helps the hiring manager feel as if he/she hired the person who they view as having the most potential of being successful.

Maybe those involved worked somewhere together in their past. It could be a relative or a child of a friend or a fraternity brother. It could be anyone that has nothing to do with someone’s resume or ability to interview.

It’s part of the reason why year after year African-American men get left behind in their quest to get to the highest points in their profession. Rarely is the African-American male the vision of success to the person on the other side of the desk. This is despite mechanisms that are in place to help even the opportunity playing field.

Policies like the NFL’s “Rooney Rule” was supposed to do just that. It wasn’t a hiring edict. It was to get minority, not just African-American men, into the system. In theory, that would give the exposure to the process and as they work their way up the ladder, they would get the same opportunities as their white counterpart. A recent study supports the feeling of inequity.

But, as many speculated when the “Rooney Rule” was born, that hasn’t been the case. Another year goes by where African-American coaches get past over for opportunities while owners take chances on the likes of Joe Judge and Matt Rhule. They look the part like Kliff Kingsbury, Zac Taylor, Matt LaFleur and Freddie Kitchens did the year before.

All four were first time NFL head coaches. Kingsbury had a losing record in college and was given the Arizona Cardinals job, after Steve Wilks, an African-American coach, was given one year before being fire.

Ron Rivera is the only minority coach hired this season. The other three openings have gone white coaches. Judge (New York Giants) and Rhule (Carolina Panthers) have no NFL head coaching experience while Mike McCarthy is a Super Bowl winning coach.

Kansas City’s offensive coordinator, Eric Bieniemy interviewed for both the Giants and Panthers job and somehow was deemed not the “right fit”. It’s even been suggested that Bieniemy didn’t get the Panthers job because the Chiefs are still in the playoffs. That’s seems to be far-fetched considering if they believed Bieniemy was their guy, Panther ownership would wait.

Bieniemy also interviewed for the Cleveland Browns job. The Browns job if the last NFL head coaching job open.

Other qualified African-American coaches didn’t even get a sniff at a job. Coaches like Jim Caldwell, Duce Staley, George Edwards,and Leslie Frazier couldn’t even get a sniff for a head coaching job.

There isn’t a simple solution to the problem. How do you truly create an even playing field when the vision is skewed?


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