I like to think of myself as an equal-opportunity everything. Despite too many experiences to the contrary, I go into every new relationship thinking that I will be accepted for who I am, and that I will extend the same courtesy.
I was listening to the radio while making a cup of coffee to support my next task effort (it was a long night last night). A representative of the state government of one of the southern United States was describing an apparently successful jobs program for which he had responsibility. I found myself snidely imitating his very southern drawl, and finally exclaimed, “I wouldn’t hire you to represent my company, no matter how well-qualified you were!” Mind you, this was strictly on the basis of how he spoke, not on the basis of the content of what he said.
I remember hearing a friend say, “Southerners just sound dumb!”, an opinion with which I now find myself agreeing, despite my having spent a wonderful two years living in the French Quarter in New Orleans, and not having noticed anything amiss. And yet, some reflection amply demonstrated that I, too, have had this opinion lurking, somewhere.
How could this be? It’s so antithetical to my self-image, to my value system, to what I think of as being right.
So, I’m faced with this new piece of self-discovery. The question is, what do I do with and about it?
Questions: What factors influence your hiring decisions? Are you aware of all of them? How can you go about determining if you have any hidden prejudices that affect your professional and personal activities? Does it even matter to you that you might be acting on such prejudices? Or that you even have them?