Adam Karpiak recruits for a living. He's also an influencer in the HR world. He recently asked recruiters on LinkedIn if they've ever received racist requests from clients--both overtly and covertly. They responded, and it's not a pretty picture. Karpiak shared examples on Twitter.

For example, it's illegal to discriminate on the basis of national origin, regardless of race. Even native English speakers have different accents depending on where they grew up. But some companies try to do it anyway.

And you're not fooling your recruiter by asking them to exclude people with names that don't meet your standards. (Whatever those are.)

Karpiak has many other examples, from the direct "no black people" to things like: 

And then there's the subtle discrimination of shunting people into approved roles.

All of these are immoral and illegal. Discrimination on the basis of race is flat out illegal--there are no exceptions. (Requiring employees of a particular sex can be allowed as a bona fide occupational qualification, but there are no such allowances for race or national origin.)

Yet managers are still doing it. When you're the CEO, what can you do to make sure your managers are not making these requests from recruiters and not selecting candidates on the basis of anything other than ability?

  • Emphasize knowledge, skills, and ability over "cultural fit." It is important to have people who can work well together, but you get that by being honest in your job postings and interviews about what life is like in your office, not by seeking out people who look and act like you do. You don't need employees to be best friends to work together well.
  • Recruit from a wide variety of places. No matter how awesome your alma mater was, if you give preference to candidates with that university on their résumé, you will be limited in whom you can recruit. You want people from a wide variety of backgrounds, so stop limiting whom you can hire.
  • Tell your recruiters not to tolerate any of this. Whether they are in-house recruiters or headhunters, let them know that the big boss has their back. When your recruiter brings a problem to your attention, take it seriously.
  • Lead by example. If you focus on culture over skill, make jokes involving race, or complain about how you can never understand someone's accent, you're part of the problem. 
  • Listen, don't justify. If an employee comes to you with a complaint about racial discrimination, don't be defensive. Sit down and listen to what they have to say. 

You can fix discrimination in recruiting, but only if you make it an active priority. If you ignore it, it will never go away.