Is self lying?
November 30, 2008 10:51 AM   Subscribe

I saw a blurb in SELF Magazine this month about employers using our economic downturn to lay off workers with the goal of creating a more diverse workplace. Previously I've heard that affirmative action hires are the first to go in a layoff situation. Does anyone know of statistics referring to our situation today (none of the google results refer specifically to 2008) or did SELF just completely make that fact up?
posted by pumpkin11 to Work & Money (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I don't think it's any less made-up than your factoid about AA hires being the first to go. Challenge your assumptions first.
posted by rhizome at 11:15 AM on November 30, 2008


I don't even know what an "affirmative action" hire is in the first place. Is that meant to mean any woman or minority? If so, then, uh, what?
posted by Airhen at 11:21 AM on November 30, 2008


Firing anyone on the basis of their race/gender (minority or majority) would be illegal.
posted by footnote at 11:21 AM on November 30, 2008


Which issue of Self? What month?
posted by purpleclover at 11:59 AM on November 30, 2008


Where did you hear that AA hires are the first to go in layoffs? That doesn't even make sense.
posted by fructose at 12:29 PM on November 30, 2008


Where did you hear that AA hires are the first to go in layoffs? That doesn't even make sense.

According to this google result in the 1970s, when some companies gained new black workers under affirmative action, and layoffs were required, and those layoffs started with the shortest-serving employees, some layoffs disproportionately affected blacks as they were new.

That said, today isn't the 1970s, so I doubt the same thing applies. How many places do layoffs based on seniority anyway?

If I was an employer, the first people to go during layoffs would be the worst and least productive employees - I don't care about my employees' gender/race/sexual orientation, I care about them making me money.
posted by Mike1024 at 1:14 PM on November 30, 2008


Hey it's the December 2008 issue with Giada de Laurentiis on the cover, I don't have the issue with me or I would quote the blurb directly.

Also, the factoid about affirmative action hires being the first to go (namely, that minorities and women are laid off first because they often have least seniority) came from my professor, and I am attempting to challenge it. I saw this "fact" in SELF, was intrigued but not convinced, and am looking for any academic studies to verify or disprove the claim.
posted by pumpkin11 at 5:23 PM on November 30, 2008


I saw this "fact" in SELF, was intrigued but not convinced, and am looking for any academic studies to verify or disprove the claim.

It's going to be difficult to get any company to go on the record saying "Yeah, we took advantage of the hard times to fire a whole bunch of people because they were white or male or older and then we hired replacements because they made our diversity statistics look better and they were willing to work for less money" especially when the layoffs took place well within the usual statute of limitations for discrimination lawsuits.

That's the kind of information they don't volunteer to academics or reporters. It usually comes out in response to subpoenas.

Come to think of it, you might want to follow the business news or legal news for reports of any such lawsuits -- people who claim that corporation X laid them off for being white/male/older/having not enough diversity points and replaced them with different demographic groups in order to make the diversity stats look better.

That's my suggestion.
posted by jason's_planet at 5:46 PM on November 30, 2008


Also, the factoid about affirmative action hires being the first to go (namely, that minorities and women are laid off first because they often have least seniority) came from my professor, and I am attempting to challenge it.

Your professor's factoid is based on the assumption that seniority actually matters in the typical workplace of 2008.

It doesn't.

I can see how, in a unionized workplace of the mid-70s, the newly hired women and members of ethnic minorities would be the first to go in layoffs. And that did actually happen back then. Quite a bit. Corporations did diversify their workforces in response to the political pressures of the time and then, when the 1973-75 recession hit, let all those new hires go.

Nowadays, employers have a lot more power to decide who stays and who goes.
posted by jason's_planet at 5:52 PM on November 30, 2008


jason's_planet »» Your professor's factoid is based on the assumption that seniority actually matters in the typical workplace of 2008. It doesn't.

That wouldn't accord with my own recent experience of being laid off from my former employer, along with several other people, based on seniority. The fact that the layoff was seniority- and not performance-based was emphasized multiple times in my exit interview. And I don't consider my former employer at all atypical in its field.
posted by WCityMike at 1:03 AM on December 4, 2008


That wouldn't accord with my own recent experience of being laid off from my former employer, along with several other people, based on seniority. The fact that the layoff was seniority- and not performance-based was emphasized multiple times in my exit interview.

Well, also in the 1970s affirmative action created a cohort of black employees with low seniority, who were 'in the firing line'. Nowerdays, blacks are more evenly distributed across the workforce, and so wouldn't be disproportionately affected by seniority-based layoffs when they do take place.

p.s. Sorry you got laid off!
posted by Mike1024 at 12:47 AM on December 5, 2008


Mike1024 »» p.s. Sorry you got laid off!

Thanks. It's a bad time of year to lose your job. Fortunately, I've only a cat to feed, not a family, and the job market, although fairly closed down for the holidays, is according to the headhunters I've spoken with going to open back up once people's 2009 budgets are approved. So although I'm not dallying in my job hunt in the meantime, at this point I'm guessing it's mostly going to be a waiting game for a while.
posted by WCityMike at 12:49 PM on December 6, 2008


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