Mitigating Damage: Corporate America’s 5 Folkways of Promoting Unqualified Minorities

So I was recently having a conversation with a friend.  Somehow the subject came up about a recent occurrence at his work place.  Apparently, the head of his workplace’s Human Resources department, who supervised about five other people, got “promoted” from “Manager of Human Resources” to…wait for it… “Director of Human Resources.”  Apparently at his place of employment, “Directors” typically supervise divisions of about 20+ employees, while “Managers” are subordinates of Directors, and supervise smaller, more job-specific, units of about…oh…say 5-10 employees.  So “Manager of Human Resources” would seem like an appropriate title right?  Why the fancy new business card with accompanying higher salary and extra perks when no additional responsibility was added.  Well, the head of Human Resources (where else would such inefficiency take place?) was a woman, and apparently there weren’t enough non-white male “Directors” to serve the needs of diversity, so a new Director position was created to alleviate the hard bigotry of meritocracy.  What I just described is what’s commonly referred to as a “promotion in place.”  It’s one method at Corporate America’s disposal to satisfy the conflicting goals of having minorities in high positions and efficient organizational performance.  So let’s say that you’re a corporate executive, and you’ve been told that you need more non-white males in positions of leadership.  But, the reason you don’t have more non-white males in leadership positions is that none are qualified, and…you are still responsible for the efficient functioning of your department!  What do you do? Here are five commonly-used techniques for dealing with these conflicting goals:

1) The “Promotion-in-Place”

As described above, the unqualified minority is kept in the same job with the same functions and responsibilities…the only thing that changes is the title of the job…and the accompanying salary and benefits (an increase of course).  Example – An unqualified minority (UQM) was the sole sales representative for the Northeast Region, with a title of “Northeast Regional Sales Representative,” and he, along with the other regional sales representatives, reported to the “National Sales Manager.”  The UQM is now “Northeast Regional Sales Manager”…still the sole sales person for the Northeast region…with no subordinates or increased responsibilities…who still reports to the “National Sales Manager”…but with a better sounding title and a pay raise.  The assault on fairness and squandered resources (in the form of an undeserved salary increase) are the main drawbacks here…but hell…those are drawbacks to all of these.  On the plus side, the UQM stays at a position he is probably competent at, and doesn’t have any (more?) responsibilities added to his portfolio that he cannot meet.

2) The “In Charge of Nothing”

I remember reading the assigned textbook for some horrible “Principles of Management” course I was forced to take.  There were several different blurbs and short interviews highlighting different managers from different organizations, and their techniques/”words of wisdom.”  What struck me was that the managers with names that would imply that they were white males, like “John Smith,” had titles like “Director of Marketing,” “Research and Development Manager,” and “Head of Accounting.”  Managers with names that would imply that they were not white males, like “Taikeesha Jackson,” had positions like “Director of Parking Lot Operations”…one woman was the “Director of Facilities,” and went on about how the decisions she made, such as whether or not to put a coy pond in the lobby, were vital to the performance of the organization.  This is an example of the “In Charge of Nothing” a.k.a the I.C.O.N.  Here, the unqualified minority is given a newly created position “in charge of” some minor function of no real necessity to the operations of the organization, like making sure that all multi-page reports are stapled at the top left corner of the page.  In the “con” column, in addition to the wasted resources of the salary/benefits increase, you will also probably have to give them some kind of operating budget for their imaginary “department.”  Additionally, they may begin to take their new “job” seriously, and this could have a negative effect on company operations.  Picture Taikeesha Jackson getting upset about people parking crooked, and calling all employees into the conference room for a 4-hour incoherent rant about “respect.”  That’s four hours of wasted productivity…but hey…you have to let her go ahead with the meeting and maintain the veil of authority.  On the plus side, you didn’t put her in charge of anything that ACTUALLY MATTERS.  At least she isn’t in charge of Sales…and losing accounts because she keeps accusing clients of racism.  This way, the damage that she can cause is only minimal…like catching the parking lot on fire!  In this particular situation, concrete isn’t likely to burn, so I would go with the I.C.O.N!

3) The “One-for-the-Price-of-Two”

The “One-for-the-Price-of-Two” occurs when a UQM is promoted to a newly created position, the responsibilities of which are already covered by a current existing position.  For example, the 6-person Marketing Department reports to the Director of Marketing.  A UQM marketing employee is now promoted to the newly-created position of “Director of Electronic Marketing.”  From this point onward, he will oversee all e-marketing activities, while the Director of Marketing oversees all marketing activities, including e-marketing if need be.  A benefit of this method is that it has the potential to avoid many hard feelings.  After all, the Director of Marketing is not actually being replaced by the undeserving minority, but instead just giving up some of his responsibilities to the unqualified quota-hire.  So while he may be peeved that the quota-hire has the same pay, benefits, and perks, with less responsibility, he can’t be too upset…his work load just got lighter…at least in theory.  The drawback is that you are now basically throwing away whatever the UQM’s salary is and getting absolutely nothing in return, as the job duties were already covered.

4) The “Bump-and-Assist”

The “Bump-and-Assist” may be the most desirable of these options.  Here, a UQM is promoted to a leadership position, and at the same time, a white employee is promoted to a newly-created assistant-leadership position, in order to provide some level of effective leadership, while still allowing the UQM to appear in charge.  For example, the Customer Service Manager previously supervised 6 Customer Service Representatives.  Now that the position has been filled by a UQM, the position of Assistant Manager of Customer Service has been created, and filled with a competent white employee, who the Customer Service Representatives can turn to when they need help, and who can sweep some of the UQM’s bad decisions under the carpet when he/she isn’t looking.  Allowing the UQM to maintain the illusion of control is vital to the successful implementation of this plan.  The drawback, as with the “One-for-the-Price-of-Two,” is that you are now basically throwing away whatever the UQM’s salary is and getting absolutely nothing in return, as the job duties are now really being handled by the white assistant-manager.  But on the plus side, organizational harmony should remain largely in tact.  The qualified white will still get something of a promotion, so feelings won’t be hurt as much as they could have been.

5) The “Hail Mary”

This is, without a doubt, the least desirable of all options.  This is where the powers-that-be, for whatever reason…maybe they believe their own press releases…, actually believe that the UQM is capable of running a large and important division…or even a cash register…and promote/hire them without any hidden support structure.  Big mistake.  This won’t end well.  For an example, just Google “Carly Fiorina Hewlett Packard.” 

You might think that maybe, given such unappealing options, at least some individuals/entities in Corporate America might instead choose to hire a competent white (maybe a…gasp…white male) employee, and just fight any lawsuits that may happen to arise.  You would be wrong.  You obviously have no idea how entrenched political correctness is in Corporate America.  Discrimination lawsuits aren’t the motivation for discriminating against whites…they’re just the excuse given for doing so.  For those big-business shills who always babble about the almighty “Market” and its efficiency, just remember this…given a choice between diversity (and accompanying bankruptcy) and efficiency, Corporate America will choose bankruptcy every time.

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4 Responses to “Mitigating Damage: Corporate America’s 5 Folkways of Promoting Unqualified Minorities”

  1. Arbitration Clauses: Protection for White Employers « Disparate Planet Says:

    [...] I was recently reading through Fundamentals of Business Law:  Summarized Cases, 7th Edition by Roger LeRoy Miller and Gaylord A. Jentz.  The subject of arbitration in employment disputes came up.  Arbitration is where, rather than one party formally suing another in court, the two parties take their issue to a neutral and private, jointly agreed upon, 3rd party who hears both sides, and renders a legally binding (in most cases) decision. One option that employers have at their disposal is to include arbitration clauses in employment contracts.  For the most part, these are agreements that if either the employer or the employee have a non-criminal legal dispute arise between the two, they will have it settled by a private arbiter rather than a court of law.  So if an arbitration clause exists in a contract, yet one party still tries to sue in court, will the courts refuse to hear the case?  Obviously exceptions exist, such as if the clause appears to be too one sided (“unconscionable”), but by in large, the answer appears to be Yes.  But what about “discrimination” lawsuits, those legal magic bullets that seem to turn the Constitution and hundreds of years of accepted principles of jurisprudence on their heads. Wikipedia reports that “the Federal Arbitration Act requires that where the parties have agreed to arbitrate, they must do so in lieu of going to court, provided that the proceeding is fundamentally fair — that is, equivalent in fairness to the public courts.”  Fundamentals of Business Law seems to concur.  The book even lists a case, Circuit City Stores, Inc. v. Adams, where an employee with an arbitration clause tried to sue his employer for discrimination in state court, and the Supreme Court found that the arbitration clause was valid, and that the suit should not be heard.  One acknowledged exception to arbitration clauses is to contracts involving interstate transportation workers.  According to the book, “arbitration is normally simpler, speedier, and less costly than litigation.”  I checked the website of Grand Valley State University, which tracks some employment arbitration cases.  Of their non-union arbitration cases listed, dealing with the topic of various types of employment discrimination, the arbiters seemed to side overwhelmingly with the employers.  Although some arbiters found that the employer did not have just cause to terminate an employee, with the question of whether or not discrimination occurred, the results seemed to go something like 16 to 1 in favor of the employer.  I’ll admit that I don’t know how representative this sample is, but it doesn’t seem entirely implausible that it mirrors national results.  In contrast, when such suits are brought into court, depending on the race of the judge, a ratio of only about between 1 to 1  and 4 to 1 cases ended in favor of the employer.  So arbitration clauses seem to be generally enforceable, and are more likely to result in quicker, less expensive, more favorable outcomes for employers accused of discrimination.  My suggestion to white employers:  Obviously, consult a lawyer first…but if they see no problem with it, make all employees sign employment contracts, and include arbitration clauses in them that require all discrimination disputes to be brought before a private arbiter.  This seems like a fairly effective way to minimize exposure to the Reverend Al and his bunch, so at first I was surprised that not more employers choose to take this route.  Then I remembered…almost all hiring/employment considerations at large institutions fall under the control of the “human resources”-diversity-industrial complex these days.  The black woman in charge of HR at your company doesn’t want to minimize the organization’s exposure to legal liability.  She just wants to help wage her little piece of the race war.  Not including arbitration clauses in employment contracts is a good way of sandbagging her enemy’s defenses.  Not that her superiors really care.  Remember the first law of workplace diversity in Corporate America…given a choice between diversity (and accompanying bankruptcy) and efficiency, Corporate America wil…. [...]

  2. Africa Got Served!!! « Disparate Planet Says:

    [...] “The First Rule of Diversity in Corporate America”:  “given a choice between diversity (and accompanying bankruptcy) and efficiency, Corporate [...]

  3. Carly Fiorina: Quota-Queen « Disparate Planet Says:

    [...] Republicans trashing the business performance of California Republican Senatorial candidate Carly Fiorina…whose only claim to fame is nearly running that company into the [...]

  4. AmRen Continues To Do My Job For Me « Disparate Planet Says:

    [...] worry Menendez, Corporate America will fold…Corporate America   always   folds when it comes to “diversity.”  Well, I guess you can’t call [...]

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