The recent disgusting episode of a Perth-based shock jock asking Prime Minister Julia Gillard whether her partner, Tim Mathieson, was “gay” simply because he was a “hairdresser” identifies something often latent but definitely around – does your role define who you are?
The Prime Minister, with typical grace in the wake of this absurd question responded succinctly and more importantly spoke for all who are in a role and are classed as something they may well not be, simply because of the role they have: “but to all the hairdressers out there, including the men who are listening, I don’t think that in life one can look at a whole profession full of different human beings and say gee, we know something about everyone of those human beings,” and added “it’s absurd.”
It was a response that can be declared far wider than the hairdressing profession and serves as a salient call to businesses looking to hire to do so with an open mind. By doing so, we ensure that each candidate is seen on merits, skills, traits and behaviours needed for the role, rather than a stereotypical picture of what each role must look like. Far too often, business are seemingly and subconsciously making decisions based on a predetermined set of criteria as to what makes a particular role and what type of person fits it. But is that right?
Do all administration assistants have to be female?
Do all nightclub security guards have to be built like brick outhouses?
Do all pilots have to be male?
Do all shock jocks have to be right-wing neanderthals?
The answer to all four is an emphatic ‘No!’ (though the shock jocks have some work to do)
However, how many businesses look at potential candidates for a role and revert to stereotype in their decision making process? It happens far more often than we would like to believe and it merely succeeds in continuing the very same stereotype.
Pushing for a hiring process to look at skills, traits and behaviours will give businesses far more options and opens the door to a range of candidates that would not possibly have been considered by typecasting. There is no room for hiring complacency and laziness given that we are in a modern workplace environment and the beliefs of old can no longer be translated into the hiring processes of today. Employers with open minds are far more likely to get the best candidates and by this open doors to sections of the community previously held back from pursuing careers in different areas simply because of stereotype.
If the Prime Minister can understand this, so too can all businesses.