Three French Hens

3frenchhensimageMany people know the beginning of the Christmas carol, “The 12 Days of Christmas”, however, there is some confusion when you get to the end of it.  Is it ten lords a leaping or ten maids a milking?  Regardless of your version of the song, we all remember five golden rings and all those birds!  The interesting thing is that the French hens are the only ones who have some nationality attached to it.  There are no Russian partridges or Asian calling birds if there are even such a thing.

So how culturally sensitive are we?  My grandmother who died at 103+ years old always referred to people by their nationality.  One of the first guys I dated was “that nice Icelandic boy” and we used the “Polish plumber”.  She definitely had her prejudices so we referred to her as “Mrs. Archie Bunker” and tried to explain to her that we are all from the same melting pot but she was not buying it.

In today’s PC (politically correct) world, where do you stack up?  I admit there are times that I am probably not PC enough but am at a loss on how to describe some people.  I have come to the point that if I even say “look at the man in the red shirt” I feel like I am offending someone.

I have been a recruiter for almost 30 years and my clients pay me to narrow down a list of potential candidates and only present a handful.  Once I review career and educational experience, there are other deciding factors in choosing one candidate over another.  Some clients do not want to relocate people and others want certain certifications.  Others have too many of one gender in the upper ranks or do not feel they are diverse enough so that will narrow the candidate pool as well.  Still others have rejected candidates because they wore a certain type of outfit (this actually happened) or have been a bit too much TMI (too much information) including talking about their love life.

It is obviously a very challenging process that seems to get more and more difficult.  In the past, I could say exactly what I was looking for (i.e. Black female) but now I have to skirt around the issue and say “my client wants to see a diverse slate of candidates.”  Most will get the meaning behind my words but others are clueless. Even others get angry because they feel they are not contenders because of their gender, race, etc.  Unfortunately this is not my decision but my client’s.

So if you are a hiring manager do think carefully about who you want to hire.  Is someone’s past work history and education what they should be judged on solely and keep other factors out of the equation?  If not, then we may have ten English lords a leaping , nine Croatian maids a milking, etc. which will make the song that much longer, and an executive search assignment could go on for months while the staff is left unsupervised.  Is that what we have come to in this world?