Escapist Podcast: 071: Jumping the Cougar-Shark

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Susan Arendt:
As for your comment about disqualifying people based on such characteristics being arbitrary...you're right. But when you have one open position and literally hundreds of qualified applicants, you will look for any reason to thin the herd.

I was also making the point that it's utterly naive to think that certain life choices will have no impact on your hireability - or, perhaps more accurately, advertising those choices.

Naive perhaps, but I cannot fault the lady in question for being indignant. Anger is the correct emotional response to injustice, it fueled the sixties, punk & rock and roll, and drives each new generation to drag their elders kicking and screaming along the ratchet of progress. You go, girl.

This case is somewhat unique in that posing in a magazine is a public thing to do, unlike many of the other personal preferences we're talking about.

Since the internet generally, and facebook in particular, a lot of personal details have become effectively public. This crop of twentysomethings don't really have an expectation of privacy, or any practical way to step back into the closet if they wanted to.

I don't see a qualitative difference between being publicly sexual and/or being publicly gay.

But people are people, biased and predjudiced. As an employer, it makes sense to try and minimize friction inasmuch as possible and practical.

Which depending on the company, could be best achieved by not employing people of certain religions, enacting don't-ask-don't-tell, or exclusively employing faithful Fox News disciples. I doubt you'd defend those solutions. As you say, any company will inevitably employ people who find each other personally offensive, it's the employees' duty to keep their prejudices out of the office, and management's job to knock heads together when they don't.

To deny someone employment opportunities because their personal background could be controversial is injustice, as a manager you'd be doing this purely to make your own job easier. Should the goal not be to minimize friction inasmuch as *ethical* and practical? We tried making people hide who they were to fit into polite society back in the fifties, it was shit.

An addendum in closing: Tasha Yar - Never Forget. <3

Susan Arendt:
Again, let's be clear - this isn't about should you hire this particular person, it's should you hire this particular person when you can hire someone else who will do it just as well?

As for your comment about disqualifying people based on such characteristics being arbitrary...you're right. But when you have one open position and literally hundreds of qualified applicants, you will look for any reason to thin the herd.

So my particular take on this is that the opposite of this might also be true, no? Instead of looking for a reason to thin the herd, you're looking for a distinguishing feature to take interest in. A woman who is able to pose nude in Playboy and then be willing to apply for a job in a different field, knowing full well the virality of the internet, seems to indicate a confidence in herself. If you're considering other team members, perhaps the ability to not be easily cowed would be rather important.

In terms of the way that other people are interpreting your question, let us take for a example a team of people who are mostly Jewish. Would you then limit the "herd" by removing all Muslim applicants because you predict that there will be friction? What if the current team is all male? Would you remove all female applicants and gay applicants because it could cause discomfort and problems?

In the end, I would say, no, an applicant shouldn't be removed due to something like this. If you're still considering in the numbers that you're posing, then another arbitrary measure would be better in culling down to numbers that you deem are manageable. Removing a single brick from a wall still won't get you into the keep.
If, however, she is at the level where only small cuts can only be made, then her work is good enough to be more important than something like this.

One of my better employers used to thin the herd by shuffling the applications and binning half the stack unseen, on the basis that he didn't employ unlucky people. That seemed bizarrely fair.

So I know I'm coming to this a week late, but I only just got to the episode and had to see if anyone drew the cougar-shark. Since it looked like no one had I wanted to see if it had ever popped up. Lo and behold, one image search later, an entry to a photo editing contest mixing land and sea animals produced this gem, remarkably tailored to the topic at hand. image

Granted, it's a different use of jumping than the source, but I can't find it in me to fault the picture for that.

To me, "Little from colum A little from colum B" is a Simpsons reference, when Grampa was distracting the feds.

Susan Arendt:

Doubler:
Susan Arendt's argument in the hypothetical hiring question is problematic because people can have problems with a wide range of personal characteristics, including but not limited to gender, race, sexual preference, religion, political affiliation, the kind of car they drive, their sense of humour, you name it. As such disqualifying people on such characteristics is arbitrary at best, and can be outright malicious at worst.
Ultimately the only thing that really puts the workplace dynamic at risk in these cases is someone with such convictions not being professional enough to put them aside in the workplace. It's a problem with them, not with the people that they are offended by.

Never said it was a problem with the "offender," as it were. But whereas you can't choose your gender, race, sexual preference, you can choose whether or not you appear nude in a magazine.

You can, however, choose to be open about it, or actively hide it or lie about things like your sexual preference or religion, or even race if it's not apparent your grandmother was black or something, or that you're a transsexual.
This is pretty commonly discussed on discussion-boards and other forums where non-heterosexual people gather.
A lot of gays feel they need to hide their sexual orientation to get promoted, or not sacked.
This happens. Not too long ago here in Finland there was a case where a woman (Johanna Korhonen) lost her job because her boss found out she was a lesbian.

I was bullied in school, and the way the school chose to deal with it was to tell me it was me who was the problem because I wasn't 'normal'. This is the same kind of thinking.

That whole segment in your podcast just left a bad taste in my mouth. Mainly because I've had to deal with stuff like that.

If a straight woman mentions her husband, no one thinks anything of it.
If a lesbian mentions her wife, everyone takes note of it, and how she is 'bringing her sexuality into the workplace'.

It is a very common complaint gays face, if they are open about their sexuality, it's 'rubbing it into people's faces'.

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