Why My School Doesn’t Matter

By February 5, 2018 No Comments

Don’t keep talking about diversity and inclusion and give priority to hiring people who went to the “right schools.” I got denied a position because I went to the “wrong school.”

I got my BA from Colegio Cesar Chavez, a non-traditional college at the time. It was sin fronteras- college without walls. My program was a mix of classroom and outside projects in community organizing, research and internship type of work. I was the only White non-LatinX student and had been recruited because they wanted to bring in different types of people.

Last year I applied to be on the faculty of an instructional organization to teach diversity and inclusion and women’s leadership. After several interviews, including a demonstration of my instructional expertise they told me how excited they were to have me join their organization.

They told me they just needed to check my college history. I graduated in 1978. I told them the school no longer existed in 2017, and that it had closed before the internet so they wouldn’t find my records but I had my diploma.

But because they couldn’t find my records from 40 years ago they rescinded the offer.

I’ve been consulting, facilitating and coaching diversity and inclusion, inclusive leadership, and culture change for over 20 years. In 2017, I was given the Global Diversity Leadership award by the World Human Resource Development Congress in Mumbai. Publications that include the Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, NY Times, Black MBA and others have featured my articles and advice, and I’ve written three books on diversity.

Insisting on the school records and not looking at my achievements and expertise demonstrates the need to stop that silly requirement. They gave up a chance to bring in someone who could have brought unbelievable value.

How many other people have been lost due to these type of decisions? I’m older and will keep going since it was just one job and I have my history of accomplishment. But I wonder how many talented young people just starting out will be told they didn’t go to the right schools, or didn’t have the right grades and be discouraged from trying. How many creative, brilliant people will be lost and never given a chance to show what they can do?

It’s time organizations realized the need to differentiate between traditions and requirements in hiring and looked at who can get the results the need.

If we want the best talent, if we want the most creative people and if we want to be inclusive we need to take a broader look at qualifications. I’m not saying don’t include schools, I’m saying don’t make it a reason to disqualify.

I just wrote a note to the CEO. We’ll see. What do you think