Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/02/11/bofh_2005_episode_5/

The BOFH guide to equal opportunities

Affirmitive action

By Simon Travaglia

Posted in BOFH, 11th February 2005 14:18 GMT

Episode 5 Things are looking good. It's a dull day with nothing on and I might even get to slide off home early, once I can get rid of this woman from the HR department who wants a favour…

"..and so we'd like you to help with the selection and interview process of the new Consultant for the Finance area," the HR woman drones.

"Really, what happened to what’s-his-name?" I ask "He'd only been here three weeks?"

"Apparently he's been arrested under the new Anti-Terrorism laws."

"Really, what was the charge - looking swarthy?"

"I'm not sure, they wouldn't say. Meantime we need a replacement for him, so we placed some advertisements and need a little help selecting some suitable applicants."

"Ok, I'm your man!" I say, renice 19-ing any remorse processes I might have running for overdosing the guy's coffee with tanning tablets and making an anonymous tip-off...

"Good. I'll send you our literature on the short listing criteria, selection and interview process."

"Roger!"

Ten minutes later I'm looking through the pages and pages of crap that we're supposed to go through to put someone into a job.

"This is bloody ridiculous!" I cry.

"What is?" the Boss asks, wandering into Mission Control.

"All the crap attached to choosing someone for a job!"

"Oh yeah, apparently they tightened things up a couple of months ago," the Boss says. "But how bad can it be?"

"How bad can it be? Look: 'The company prides itself of being an Equal Opportunity Employer'. What does that mean?"

"It means that we we're not prejudiced in our selection techniques."

"Of course we're bloody prejudiced! We want someone who can do that job!"

"Yes, yes, but if two people came in and one of them was… er…"

"A 54-year-old black lesbian hippo with one leg who worshipped chutney," the PFY suggests.

"Er.. yes, then we would appoint the, er, them!"

"Instead of the other applicant?"

"Yes."

"Why?"

"Well because we're giving them an equal opportunity."

"No I think you mean Affirmative Action," the PFY comments. "Equal Opportunities means that they'd both be considered regardless of who they were. Affirmative Action is intended to address a perceived lack of some group in a company for PR purposes.”

"It's not for P.R!"

"Right," the PFY says dubiously.

"Well this flies in the face of my Unequal Opportunities Policy!" I say.

"Your what?!?"

"Unequal Opportunities Policy. Which is basically 'if you can do the job, you're in!'. Couldn't give a crap about age, sex, race, etc. It's a simple policy, but it seems to work. Unless…"

"Unless what!?"

"Unless you're a thicko. I can't stand thickos. No offence."

"What do you mean?!"

"Thickos, you know, people who can't... well.. tie their shoelaces without assistance. No offence."

"What do you mean 'no offence'!?"

"Well you know, some people get upset when you say something like that - especially if they're a complete 'tard. No offence"

Five minutes later the Boss has company, in the form of the PR woman that'd spoken to me earlier.

"Uh.. there's some problem with our appointments policy?" she asks, oozing diplomacy.

"Well I was just saying that it's bollocks really. I mean down at our level no-one really gives a crap about the whole age/sex/colour/creed thing so long as you're good at your job. The thing we do have a problem with is people who are too thick for their role. No offence, No offence."

"Are you implying that we're stupid?"

"Uh... Lets see, how can I say this best? Ah! An intelligent person would not have needed to ask that question! No offence. No offence"

"I have a Masters Degree in Gender Studies!" the HR woman snaps.

"Ooooh, now there's a degree that's hugely marketable!" the PFY blurts sarcastically.

"I've been published several times in the Journal of Employment Diversity!!"

"And I'm sure both their readers enjoyed it," I add. "However I doubt that this means you have the wherewithal to properly administer a desktop machine."

"What's that got to do with it?"

"We're talking about the position of a desktop support person for the Finance area, someone who'll need skills in desktop support, minor administration, application installation and management, etc - all technical tasks requiring more than a little savvy when it comes to computing."

"Ah," the Boss says. "You were talking about computing intelligence! I understand now. You see, the way you worded it made it appear like you were suggesting that I - and Sheree here - were, well, stupid."

"Oh, I see what you mean," I say . "Unfortunately when you're in a position like mine you tend to see things in black and white as opposed to shades of grey. So whereas you might see yourself as in the upper 90 percents of intelligence, I might see you as in the lower 15s."

"Because of our knowledge of the spheres of computing is much less than your own!" the HR woman adds.

"Yes, that too," the PFY says.

"What do you mean?" she asks, frowning.

"Well, that, and because you're thicko," the PFY says.

And there go the wheels from the going-home-early plan. ®

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