Thursday, June 3, 2010

Lunacy on stilts

All Things Considered ran a piece this evening about a new shopping mall in East Harlem whose tenants -- mostly big retailers -- have agreed to hire a proportion of their work forces from among local residents. One of the retailers (Best Buy, I believe, though don't quote me on that) was reported to be proud that it had hired one of every two local applicants.

Why were the others turned down? Well, some of them, when asked in the interview why they wanted to work for the company, had replied that they needed a job -- and this was disqualifying!!

Here we have a program designed to encourage and facilitate the hiring of poor, inner-city residents, and an applicant fails if s/he tells the prospective employer that he or she wants to work for it because he or she needs a job. What is the applicant supposed to say? "I like meeting new people"? "I've always wanted to work for Best Buy/Costco/whoever"? "My goal is to be the manager of a retail establishment and this job will be a first step toward that goal"? Your guess is as good as mine. The point is that honesty is penalized and b.s. is rewarded. To someone immersed in the through-the-looking-glass culture of corporate America, this may make sense. To a sane person with some distance from that culture, it is crazy -- totally, thoroughly nuts.

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