back to article Skin colour's irrelevant. Just hire competent folk on their merits, FFS

I note from a technical publication of repute that Microsoft has announced that marriage equality is a fundamental and core value for the company itself. To which, OK, great, and why not? As I pointed out previously, “taste” discrimination against people because of anything other than their working skills is a costly endeavour …

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  1. EssEll

    Positive discrimination ...

    ... is still just that - discrimination. However, in some quarters it is still a cultural change to (for example) encourage organisations to recruit according to skills and merit rather than sex or colour. We need to change that mindset, which is WAY harder than changing Microsoft's hiring policy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Positive discrimination ...

      You also need the applicants in the first place.

      We are constantly looking for people, but until now, we have 2 Turks, the rest are of North European stock. Why? Because only 2 Turks have applied here and nobody from another minority has applied to work here at all.

      But we are relatively rural based and immigrants are few and far between.

      1. Evil Auditor Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Positive discrimination ...

        AC, you forgot to mention that you're the local KKK branch.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Positive discrimination ...

          No I didn't. I am one of the few immigrants, although I am "North European" stock...

  2. Chris Miller

    Here is the PC forecast

    Issued by MiniTruth 0900Z:

    "People of colour" - good; moving towards broad sunlit uplands.

    "Coloured people" - doubleplus ungood; expect severe Twitterstorm, public humiliation to follow.

    Our next bulletin will be at 1200Z

    1. RyokuMas Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Here is the PC forecast

      ... as broadcast on your Samsung telescreen.

    2. Frederic Bloggs

      Re: Here is the PC forecast

      But, but.. What has the PC forecast to say on "Melanin Enhanced, Normal or Depleted"?

      I think we should be told.

      1. anonymousI

        Re: Here is the PC forecast

        But there's no such thing as the diversity unenhanced concept "Normal".

        Everything is equal to everything else, remember.

    3. fruitoftheloon

      @Chris Miller: Re: Here is the PC forecast

      Chris,

      On a similar notion, if I were to have a discussion with persons who have a darker skin tone than myself, I wonder if I were to label myself as a 'person without colour', would they be offended?

      Ironically, quite a bit of me literally has no skin pigment, but when fully dressed it is not at all obvious...

      It's a funny old world nowadays...

      J.

      1. P. Lee Silver badge

        Re: @Chris Miller: Here is the PC forecast

        >It's a funny old world nowadays...

        What's funnier is that white is a combination of colours, while black is the absence of colour.

        Or so my spinning colour-wheel-on-a-rubber-band seems to indicate.

  3. dan1980

    "My own reaction is that if those whitebread brocoders (is that right? - Vulture Central's backroom gremlins) can create something that appeals to people of colour, then that rather explodes the argument that only people of colour can divine and then service the desires of people of colour."

    On one hand - you are 100% correct: Competence should be the only measure.

    On the other, you are somewhat less correct, because the simple truth is that people just don't want to feel like they are in the minority.

    That's not to say that that isn't a relic of a tribal past that, despite all our genius, is still only about 1/30th of the distance to our (apparently) recognisably 'human' beginnings. It is such a relic but it's a fact and companies know that thus allow it to influence some of their decisions.

    1. Stuart 22

      "On one hand - you are 100% correct: Competence should be the only measure."

      Yes, but when the apparent result is 100% white or 100% men or both then you have to ask some deep questions like is the access to competence equally open to all? Or is there something about your image which discourages applications from others?

      If you suspect either do you just close your eyes to the issue or try and do something about it? - which is usually some form of positive discrimination which if successful is in the long term is beneficial to all. The object, of course, being to eliminate the future need for considering positive discrimination.

      This has nothing to do with quotas. That is just unthinkingly bad.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        May have nothing to do with your image

        It may have to do with access to places where you obtain competence (i.e. universities or those companies Twitter likes to poach from)

        And further down, interest level to go to those universities and study Comp Sci, or get a job out of school from the companies Twitter likes to poach from.

        I imagine it is similar to the gender "bias" in STEM. Girls have nearly as high interest in boys in science and math in early grade school, but by middle school the numbers are very different. What causes that? Are the teachers discouraging them? Maybe. Are their friends or even parents discouraging them? Quite possibly. Is there something in the genetic/chemical makeup of female brains that causes this to occur due to puberty? That is a question that isn't allowed to be asked, because it would lead to acceptance of gender imbalance in STEM.

        For race a lot of it is likely tried to socioeconomic conditions. If you're poor your parents can't buy you your own computer. If your everyone around you basically says the way to make it is to be a great athlete, you will spend some of your younger years pursuing that until it eventually becomes clear you will never play for the NBA or NFL. By that time it is more difficult to catch up with those who didn't chase those dreams...

      2. P. Lee Silver badge

        >Competence should be the only measure.

        That can be hard to measure.

        Would you take someone who is the best coder, but has a rubbish work-ethic? How about someone who is a great powershell wielder, but constantly picks fights with or demeans their colleagues?

        Some companies thrive on a competitive culture, while others value cooperation. Do you pick the person who will strengthen the team cohesion with a drink down at the pub after work, or someone with an extra year's accounting experience? A good cultural fit can easily outweigh a slight edge in skills or knowledge in terms of importance. That creates a lot of grey areas, especially as people generally feel comfortable with other people who are like them. Native communities tend to hire from their own, immigrant communities tend to hire from their own.

        Sometimes, a stick is needed to get people out of their comfort zones if "cultural fit" has taken too great a role. At other times, an incompetent team needs to have someone who can demonstrate and teach excellence.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Quote from an interview

    I still vividly remember an interview from a while back. CTO of said company: "First, let me make it clear. We discriminate and we are proud of it. We discriminate against STUPID people".

    That is as far as discrimination and positive action goes.

    As far as Microsoft's call for "marriage equality" they are just having a publicity W*NK. I will believe they mean what they say the day when their lobbying arm will call all the congresscritters they have been greasing for so long to change the law so that the marriage of their slave H1B labour is treated as equal, not as "wife of a slave".

    Difference between the wife of slave and a non-slave and what is the true indication that a slave is a slave?

    The slave's wife is assigned by a congress decree to 5 years of house labour - Kinder, Kuche, Kirche (just the Puritanic equivalent of full burkha). IT IS UNEQUAL AND NOT A HUMAN BEING WITH ALL RIGHTS (as per the UN convention of these) BY US LAW. End of story. So if they reall mean it, they should start by making it equal for all those guys they imported on H1B.

    Until then, it is just another Micro and Soft W*nk.

    1. dogged

      Re: Quote from an interview

      wtf was that?

      You seem to be a very angry person, AC. What are these slaves you're talking about? I thought (given context) that the statement meant MS is fine about being married or not and they can marry their own gender or a different one (was that PC? I can't even tell anymore) as they so choose.

      Are you Margaret Atwood? Or just mental?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Quote from an interview

        Are you Margaret Atwood? Or just mental?

        No, I just do not like hypocritical w*nkers. If Microsoft is true about Marriage Equality, it should start with asking for human rights to be offered to the spouses of the H1B part of its workforce.

        As they do not have them - read the definition of the H4 visa. By the way, while the Obama administration has recently shown some sense on it: http://recode.net/2014/05/06/congrats-h-1b-spouses-you-can-get-back-to-work-soon/ , the congresscritters continue to insist on the 5 year mandatory burkha treatment and most importantly NOT A SINGLE tech company (Microsoft included) is lobbying for this.

        1. dogged

          Re: Quote from an interview

          in situations where the average person is under financial strain, advocating a relaxation of immigration laws is guaranteed to be wildly unpopular. MS already have an Indian CEO and I suspect their board would start to be concerned about the sheer number of dumbfuck rednecks in the USA who would take violent offence to such lobbying.

          Or the slating that MS would get in (currently Republican) Congress.

          Meanwhile down in Dixie -

          Well sheeeeeeeee-it, boy. Micra-soft be importin' more of them there brown fellers and their muslamic womenfolk? I say we go buy from Apple. The Cook feller may be queer but at least he's a Merrican queer".

          while any economist who has ever looked at the figures involved supports open immigration policies, the public do not and the disgusting perversions they elect to represent them view immigration as a handy thing to rabble-rouse about. Nothing gets the voters to love you like a lynching.

          Calling Microsoft "wankers" for obeying the law seems a little extreme, unless you have a personal undisclosed interest in this.

    2. Gordon 10 Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Quote from an interview

      Tim might say that given that the Cap on H1B's has been reached continuously for the last few years then it indicates many people are actively choosing being a H1B 'slave' to working elsewhere.

      Nice rant btw.

  5. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    How to accurately measure diversity?

    Personally, whenever I have to fill in a form with ethnic questions I tend to tick something at random. Okay, to you I may LOOK like a white British person, but who are you to tell me what my ethnic origin is? Inside I really, really feel Caribbean (or possibly Inuit)

    I'd take the results of any ethnic origin survey with a large pinch of salt...

    1. theOtherJT

      Re: How to accurately measure diversity?

      I've just been refusing to answer the bloody things for years. Unless I'm going in for medical treatment - where it is plausible that my ethnic background might actually make some sort of difference - it's completely irrelevant and I'm not playing.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How to accurately measure diversity?

      I don't answer ethnic surveys because it's apparently perfectly fine to discriminate against my ethnicity, to mock my ethnicity on prime time TV and to use racial jibes in mainstream feature films, but only about my ethnicity.

      You have to say "people of colour" because somebody with money cares about that but "My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding" is fine, have a good laugh and sneer away.

      The worst bit is that they're not even fucking gypsies.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How to accurately measure diversity?

      I tend to tick "Other", or "Decline". Mainly because the ethnic categories seem utterly confused about what they are supposed to be - they're typically a mishmash of genetic, nationality, and cultural criteria which seem largely poorly organized or structured (at least to me). If they made them a little more coherent - and therefore, I feel, useful - I might be more inclined to tick boxes in a more useful manner. Because I don't usually feel that the the box I presumably "should" tick really represents me at all.

      1. Ossi

        Re: How to accurately measure diversity?

        Have you noticed every time you go to hospital, before any medical professional has seen you, you have to fill in the damn diversity form? This happened to me even when I was covered in blood after one of the good burghers of leafy Walthamstow had decided to administer a beer bottle to the back of my head. It completely defeats me how this information is useful. Are they going to demand more injured Chinese or something? How much money is spent on collecting this information and could, possibly, the NHS have better things to spend it on?

        If the data are really useful (if), then do some sampling occasionally.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: How to accurately measure diversity?

          While not relevant to every medical issue, your ethnic background predisposes you to certain conditions. Knowing which conditions a patient has a genetic predisposition to can be extremely important in making sure you get diagnosed and treated quickly and effectively.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: How to accurately measure diversity?

            Yes WHITE treatment fast and good.

            NOT WHITE not so fast or so good.

            1. Ossi

              Re: How to accurately measure diversity?

              "Yes WHITE treatment fast and good.

              NOT WHITE not so fast or so good."

              Very good - painting the whole NHS as racist.

          2. This post has been deleted by its author

          3. Ossi

            Re: How to accurately measure diversity?

            "While not relevant to every medical issue, your ethnic background predisposes you to certain conditions. Knowing which conditions a patient has a genetic predisposition to can be extremely important in making sure you get diagnosed and treated quickly and effectively."

            I appreciate that, and I can see how it would be useful. Curious then that the form wasn't designed for that purpose, and it seems that separate clinical data are kept:

            http://www.england.nhs.uk/iscg/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2014/06/20140625_SCCI_Item_7_SCCI5566_SoN_2011_

            Ethnic_Category_Coding_DSCN112008.pdf

            [join 2 parts together]

          4. Oninoshiko

            Re: How to accurately measure diversity?

            "While not relevant to every medical issue, your ethnic background predisposes you to certain conditions. Knowing which conditions a patient has a genetic predisposition to can be extremely important in making sure you get diagnosed and treated quickly and effectively."

            I'm pretty sure "had beer bottle broken over the back of the head in the pub" is not one of the conditions that knowing your race really helps much in diagnosing...

      2. John H Woods Silver badge

        Ethnic Origin:

        African --- aren't we all?

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Ethnic Origin:

          Likewise under "place of birth" I always put "sprang fully formed form the forehead of Zeus", and wait for the resulting religous discrimination

    4. Philip Lewis

      Re: How to accurately measure diversity?

      race=human

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Amen, but where is our voice ?

    The problem is that the vast majority of men and women of all races realise that you are correct, but our views are not heard.

    We have no Gender Studies courses, no silly bints writing in the Guardian, no code.org penalizing boys.

    We need to organise to fight all discrimination, from Labour's women-only shortlists to old-school racists, but there is no-where for us to go.

    1. Wade Burchette

      Re: Amen, but where is our voice ?

      In today's politically correct world, it is okay to be sexist, so long as you are not a male. And it is okay to be racist, so long as you are not white (or should I say Caucasian).

      1. jonathanb Silver badge

        Re: Amen, but where is our voice ?

        You should say "White British/Irish", as discriminating against other whites, including "White Irish Traveller" is not PC.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pink fluffy unicorns dancing on rainbows

    This is the 2nd MLP related image I've seen on The Register.

    Is one of El Regs editors a secret brony?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pink fluffy unicorns dancing on rainbows

      GreaseMonkey and Firefox, no pesky images

    2. MJI Silver badge

      Re: MLP?

      No idea what that stands for.

      Mango Lettuce Peanut?

      Major League Penguin?

      Microscopic Little People?

      1. DanDanDan

        Re: MLP?

        My little pony

        1. MJI Silver badge

          Re: MLP?

          I prefer mine!

          1. DanDanDan

            Re: MLP?

            FWIW me too. Especially Major League Penguin

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: MLP?

          God god I wish Season 5 would start already!

  8. Adolph Clickbait

    Perhaps interviews need to be blinded (ala "the Voice")

    (not interviewers)

  9. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Three considerations

    1. Why should MS (or Google, F/B, Twits or any other business) know what the composition of their workforce is in terms of race, sexuality or anything else? It shouldn't be an attribute on their staff database. Male/female might reasonably be if it's affected by different legislated retirement ages but that's that the only good reason to gather that information.

    2. Age still seems to be a PC-allowable basis for discrimination.

    3. What proportion of African ancestry is required to be classed as $terminology-of-choice as opposed to white? I ask partly because there are occasional findings of African Y-chromosome haplotypes in English families with no clear explanation.

    1. John Savard Silver badge

      Re: Three considerations

      In the United States, at one time all it took was one sixty-fourth part of black ancestry to be classified as officially black.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Something Dawkins said

    in "The Ancestors Tale"

    I must at this point reiterate my strong objection to being asked to fill in forms in which I have to tick a box labelling my ‘race’ or ‘ethnicity’, and voice my strong support for Lewontin's statement that racial classification can be actively destructive of social and human relations — especially when people use racial classification as a way of treating people differently, whether through negative or positive discrimination. To tie a racial label to somebody is informative in the sense that it tells you more than one thing about them. It might reduce your uncertainty about the colour of their hair, the colour of their skin, the straightness of their hair, the shape of their eye, the shape of their nose and how tall they are. But there is no reason to suppose that it tells you anything about how well-qualified they are for a job. And even in the unlikely event that it did reduce your statistical uncertainty about their likely suitability for some particular job, it would still be wicked to use racial labels as a basis for discrimination when hiring somebody. Choose on the basis of ability, and if, having done so, you end up with an all-black sprinting team, so be it. You have not practised racial discrimination in arriving at this conclusion.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I still want to know

    Why it's ok to say "a person of color", but it's offensive to say "a colored person" - go figure...

    But as regards ignoring our "differences" in favour of the importance of the rich/poor wealth divide, isn't it true that the wealth divide is mostly down to what color you are?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I still want to know

      The NAACP can't seem to decide - in 2008 they thought it was OK for Lohan to use it, however Mr Cumberbatch isn't allowed.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I still want to know

        So are the NAACP being sexist by allowing Ms Lohan to use it but not Mr Cumberbatch?

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