I was just listening to the radio and they were discussing the human ability to lie to ourselves, to honestly believe we are honourable people who never lie yet continually have one part of ourselves convince another part of something which is actually untrue.
How many of us are shocked when we see a picture of ourselves?
This is because when we look in a mirror we have already convinced ourselves what we look like so, more or less, that’s what we see. In those nano seconds before getting the image we already converted it. In the picture we seldom get that warning and see the reality which can come as quite a shock!
How about our voice?
Isn’t it amazing how often you hear your own voice and barely recognise yourself or even go as far as to blame the equipment for in incorrect capture of our voice?
Both these examples are the same thing, the perception we have of ourselves are the one we have convinced ourselves to be true. Reality often comes as quite a shock. Whether that is pleasant or not depends on the individual.
The point here is, we don’t even recognise our own differences with accuracy. OK, part of us does which then lies to the other part to create the false perception. This being the case, how accurately can we judge others?
We know there are laws which allegedly force us to acknowledge diversity and actively move toward embracing it but, if we can lie to ourselves about our own differences, how can we look at a job candidate and not do the same thing?
It has been proven that taller men are far more likely to get hired and promoted than shorter men. It’s not intentional, we just lean that way without realising it, it’s inbuilt to do so. Attractive people are more likely also to get on easier in life than the less physically gifted.
Women too are different to men in their perceptions. A man will perceive size and age as a strength, even a threat (and as such, worthy of positive opinion), woman will value other women similar to themselves and see any taller or shorter as ‘too different’. None of this we realise doing.
Many older very qualified people will be overlooked for younger people and this is reflected in the age of the interviewer too. What we do not realise is that for the first several decades of our life, age difference matters, we don’t realise this to be true but it is. Our 5 year old may insist on being 5 3/4 because such a differential between them and ‘just’ a 5 year old is important. They don’t know why it is important but it is. To a 10 year old, without any reasoning at all, 20 in ancient, to a 20 year old, 40 is ancient and so on. None of this is considered, there is not real reasoning, it is just how we’re programmed.
A company might try and employer an equal number of men and women and achieve that but, in so doing, they will still go for the subconscious preference. Instead of diversity, what they actually have is a company full of the same kind of people. This is all the more the case when it comes to a single position rather than hiring a group … let me explain. If a recruiter is interviewing for one role and they get it wrong, that’s their head on the block. If they interview for 10 and 2 of them go rogue, that’s down to natural selection, normal statistical probability. Therefore, the recruiter is going to play it safe when looking for just one person and edge toward the familiar.
An example you can understand.
Magically I am giving you a budget to buy one car. This will be your only car and you have children … I can tell you that you are going for the compromise vehicle, it ticks all the boxes, not perfectly but you will be happy with your choice albeit that it really isn’t as sporty as you might like, isn’t as fast, is more economical and so on.
Let’s try this, I’ll double your budget, you can get two cars …. what do you get? Two identical cars to the first one because it was such a good choice or, one being the reliable MPV and the other being the two seater sports car? Of course you don’t get your first choice at all because, in reality, that wasn’t the choice you wanted, it was the safe choice.
In the real world of employment we know that this means employees are mainly chosen for their lack of difference, not their diversity at all. If this were not true, every company we entered would have a far broader range of employees than they actually do.
Sure, over time differences appear as people naturally change. All those people who looked much the same a decade earlier now look quite different. Some will have gained weight, some will be more stressed or whatever way they have changed but this is an accident, the employer will still be replacing those who leave with the same familiar and safe sort of person.
Not all companies do this, of course they don’t. There are exceptions to this rule, Google for example! Those which do unintentionally discriminate are losing out on a certain type of difference. They are lacking the differences which make us humans better to more broadly relate as individuals to other humans.
It’s a very complex subject and as psychology fascinates me, I thought I’d engage with it.