Hiring Discrimination Is Illegal – SO WHAT?!?

Micah 6:8 “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”

Genesis 1:28 “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

In the hiring process, I believe most people (job seekers, recruiters, and hiring managers) desire the process to be fair, equitable, just, and are looking to hire the best candidate for the job that is posted.

However, as we’ve seen in recent weeks, discrimination still exists in our country. Discrimination may show up very clearly, as we saw in the video of George Floyd’s tragic death. Yet discrimination oftentimes is more subtle, yet insidiously systemic. It may not even be intentional, but unconscious bias still creates an unjust outcome.

Discrimination: “the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex.” (Oxford Languages)

God’s law is clear that ALL people are created in His image, and ALL people are to be treated fairly. Additionally, the United States created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 1965 to administer and enforce civil rights laws against workplace discrimination. However, both God’s law and the United States laws are not necessarily followed.

The evidence is overwhelming, both statistically and anecdotally, that racial discrimination occurs in the hiring process, even within companies that actively work to prevent it. A Harvard Business Review article title sums it up well, “Hiring Discrimination against Black Americans Hasn’t Declined in 25 Years.” (10/11/17). Their conclusion: “Even among well-intended employers, racial bias may lurk in hiring decisions. Whether conscious or not, bias continues to affect decision making, and we find little evidence that this pattern will diminish on its own.”

So…WHAT CAN YOU DO? At Crossroads Career, our mission is to help educate, equip, and encourage people in their job transition, and that includes some “not so pretty” aspects of the job search, including race, gender, and age discrimination. Here are some principles that we believe can be useful, and we’ll be expanding on these in our upcoming July webinar:

  1. Stay true to yourself – “To thine own self be true.” Despite some literature’s recommendation to the contrary (such as “whitening” your resume), you are uniquely created to be you! Put your best foot forward in the process to be who God created you to be. Ephesians 2:10 states “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
  2. Be equipped – Based on my experience, and countless studies, there are no “silver bullets” to prevent racial discrimination. Thus, one should be prepared to encounter it. Educate yourself on potential red or yellow flags that may indicate unconscious bias is surfacing, whether it’s with networking, interviewing, or resume reviews. Even if unintentional, the results can still be negative. By not being surprised, your odds will improve to navigate it. If you encounter it, we encourage you to stand against it, either by reporting it or in recognizing that the “cultural fit” might not be right for you.
  3. Focus on fundamentals – Despite the discriminatory filters that may exist, you help remove the scales from people’s eyes by ensuring that your resume speaks strongly to the results you achieved, your networking process is gracious, and that you can WOW interviewers. Many tips and tools exist on our Crossroads Career site to support you in these areas.
  4. Trust God – Psalm 37:28a says, “For the Lord loves justice, and does not forsake His saints; They are preserved forever…” While we should do our best to be prepared for and pursue the roles that we believe we fit, ultimately He is in control. We should not settle for injustice, but after prayer for direction, do everything we can to push forward despite it. And then rest in the knowledge that He will preserve us.

I look forward to sharing more with you in our July webinar, including some practical examples and stories of how others navigated through these very real issues in our world today.

Dave Sparkman currently serves as the volunteer Crossroads Career board chair and local ministry leader. He is also the founder and managing director of Spark Your Culture, a corporate culture consulting firm. Prior to that he worked at UnitedHealth Group, a Fortune #5 public company, serving in the role of Chief Culture Officer. His unemployment experience came from the implosion of Arthur Andersen, where he served as the West Region Managing Partner, People.


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Comments 2

  1. I am truly saddened by this article and I don’t really understand the point of it. The advice sounds to me as though “racial discrimination” in the hiring process should just be accepted and it puts the onus on people of color to acknowledge the position that they were unjustly passed up on was “not the right cultural fit”. It was not simply discrimination that caused George Floyd and countless other black men and women to be targeted by excessive police force, it’s racism. You do address the fact it’s a systemic issue but completely ignored the fact that a black person’s resume may not be able to WOW perspective employers because of these systemic racism preventing them from even receiving the same opportunities as their white counterparts. Racism persists is nearly every facet of American society, influencing the type of school we attend to even the healthcare we receive. I pray daily for myself as a Black women that I can be strong enough to face adversity and I agree wholeheartedly that it is in God’s capable hands. We as Christians have a responsibility to right these injustices, far beyond telling people of color to accept and expect racial discrimination. Crossroads Career center, as a Christian institution has an even great responsibility to start a conversation about racism and it’s effect and offer real options for change.

    1. Sabrina, thank you for your post. I completely agree that we need to start these conversations and have open dialogue about racial injustice and God’s perspective is on it. I believe He opposes it and is saddened by the brokenness He sees in this world. As Christ followers we have an obligation and opportunity to combat it at every level. I’m disappointed that I don’t know how to fully prevent discrimination, or even wholly protect people from it. I was hopeful that the article would acknowledge discrimination systemically exists within hiring processes, and to help prepare people if they encounter it. In our upcoming webinar, we will be going into more depth with two people’s discrimination experiences and how they navigated through it. I trust that through the truth of Scripture and sound HR & Recruitment principles, we can help everyone, regardless of whatever biases (e.g. race, age, or gender) they encounter.

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