Faux Diversity in Recruiting


Vikram Bath

Vikram Bath is the pseudonym of a former business school professor living in the United States with his wife, daughter, and dog. (Dog pictured.) His current interests include amateur philosophy of science, business, and economics. Tweet at him at @vikrambath1.

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25 Responses

  1. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Ms. Edwards has a LinkedIn page that lists her as an HSBC employee. She does appear to have a bunch of these certificates and is also model level pretty. Maybe she was a model at one point. That I don’t know.

    The theory I have seen is that HSBC is having a hard time recruiting and did this to show how fabulous it is to work there. If you do the math, she works about 4 to 5 hours a day by attending meetings and getting coffee with clients. Plus she lives in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in one of the most expensive cities. Her boyfriend is handsome yet adorkable.

    The heat I have seen this article get is that a lot of twitter did not think she sounded like a real person. They “key wins” lines caused a lot of twitter eye rolls. The other thing that caused a lot of hate reads was her podcast selection especially the GOOP podcast. I had not heard of the others but the fact that there is a podcast called Dorm Room Tycoon depresses me. What happened to dorm room poet?

    But I have met people who are that careerist. They might not say key wins but they do seemed relentlessly focused on career growth. I think this is foreign to a lot of people because most people don’t attend too schools and they have other interests and hobbies. I am overwhelmed by the way hyper careerist people talk about jobs. Do they like to do anything else?Report

    • I agree with Saul, the “buzzwords” that people see as red flags, I’ve met enough folks from my management time in the corporate world that there are people who think and talk exactly like that. There is a certain strand of “hyper careerist,” to use Saul’s term, and they are tunnel vision like this person is portrayed here. Obviously a company wants someone who is that ate up with corporate culture and success, as no doubt that meets their needs. The problem of course is overtly recruiting that specific of a personality type is going to land flat with everyone who isn’t like that, which is probably 95% of people.

      The larger problem I have is, as someone who when working was results and process oriented, I just couldn’t get over how inefficent and (if taken at face value) unproductive this individual is. Meetings and errands are “dead time” that isn’t producing anything. The manager in me understands it, but the grinder in me hates it.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        It reminds me of the Simpsons line “isn’t pro-active one of those words that stupid people use to sound smart.” There are people who really believe that real intelligence lies in making bank and pursuing your career. Anything more abstract is useless to them. They like money, power, status, and ambition. They can’t really comprehend anything else.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

        Luckily they only really want the 5% that think MBA buzzwords are da bomb.Report

        • I hear you. Re-entered the civilian workforce in my early thirties, and “management trainee” me did a lot of tongue biting to fresh-out-of-college management types. The ones that went straight on to MBA’s and were in the real world for the first time at 25-26 or whatever were an interesting experience to work with.Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

            When I worked for the Business School, they amused me endlessly.

            Honestly, if the bulk of the faculty were not equally clueless about the real world, I’d have assumed the faculty were punking the students.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

        My girlfriend’s counter view was that Ms. Edwards was a “relationships manager” and going to meetings and/or talking to clients is just what she does. Her job is to make clients happy and hope they direct more people to HSBC.Report

          • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

            But it does seem like she works what used to be called “Banker’s hours” and those seem like the days of a vanished time. For me it was the relentless careerism, the twice a day workouts (tennis in the morning, yoga in the evenings)*,
            plus the relentless careerism (business oriented podcasts, talking about key wins). Does she watch TV? movies? Listen to music? Read books? Ever just want to eat a pizza?Report

            • I’m the wrong person to ask, as I never did do “bankers hours,” and even in my semi-retired current state do not keep a set schedule like that.

              Although I’m sure embellished for the article/advert, it reminded me of when the big push was “whole person” and “life balance” as some of those buzzwords people liked to through around. Here’s another of those trendy business buzzword things; that cocooned lifestyle described within would make you fully capable inside the set circles of Paulo Alto, but her “EQ” to those outside that world might be a whole different story.Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

                Right. She is seemingly an affluent woman in her early to mid 30s. Maybe even younger and without kids. She has enough money from her job and/or other sources to allow her to live in one of SF’s most expensive neighborhoods and possibly maintain a place down in Palo Alto. A lot of the critiques were from people who had kids and worse commutes.Report

            • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

              Saul Degraw: But it does seem like she works what used to be called “Banker’s hours” and those seem like the days of a vanished time.

              Banker’s hours was never actually a real work schedule, was it? My understanding is that it referred to the time that banks were open for accepting transactions, and the rest of the day they closed to the public so that they could process the transactions, which was labor-intensive in the days when it was all done by hand.Report

          • Avatar Vikram Bath says:

            If we believe the description in the article, she’s pretty clearly doing sales:

            Once Edwards gets into work, her day is full of meetings with venture-capital firms, technology companies, and new startups.

            During these meetings, she and her colleagues help these companies identify various ways that they can work with HSBC, from providing them with international banking services to connecting them with HSBC’s digital and investment teams.


            • Avatar Marchmaine says:

              Its not clear to me that it is sales, actually. Its likely in the Sales/Marketing nexus but I think it sounds more like BizDev and maybe even Relationship Management/Customer Success type of position. I’m not 100% sure how FinServe BizDev works, but that’s what it looks like to me… more marketing than sales, but tied to sales and generally more lucrative than marketing ops, but less so than sales.

              I mean, one can only infer so much from tennis, yoga and tea… but the biz side of things seemed much more relationship oriented than deal oriented.

              Could be, of course, that they are hiding the grinding pain of hitting quarterly quotas and constant judgement of performance against your peers and the daily gnawing at your gut that you’ll most likely be killed in the morning… but that doesn’t sell quite as well.Report

        • Avatar aaron david says:

          We used to call that an Account Manager. Its how I ended my logistics career.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      Tech causes some weird distortions in the Bay Area economy even if you can’t code or do other science things. Many law firms can’t hire enough paralegals because they can’t affird tech level salaries and benefits. This means lawyers, especially in real person areas, need to do s lot of paralegal work.Report

    • Avatar Dark Matter says:

      Ms. Edwards has a LinkedIn page that lists her as an HSBC employee. She does appear to have a bunch of these certificates and is also model level pretty. Maybe she was a model at one point. That I don’t know.

      There are a more-than-fair number of marketing people around who look that nice. It’s rarer with the engineering crowd but they still exist (I work with two… but my group isn’t typical).

      My expectation is any large group will have “could have been a model” people around. My other expectation is that isn’t typical.Report

  2. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Would you rather:

    A) Work for a diverse banking workplace that launders money for terrorists
    B) Work for a pretty homogenized banking workplace that claims to be diverse that launders money for terrorists

    Get your degree in finance!Report

  3. Avatar Aaron David says:

    There really isn’t a difference between the DuPont family wedding announcement and the HSBC diversity profile. They are really just ads, ads for how the the companies want to be perceived. A wedding notice in the NYT (with yachts!) says “we are old, respected, placed and genteel. Join us for this.” HSBC’s in LinkedIn (with women!) is saying “we are young, cool, fresh and hip. Join us for this.” The only real difference is how successful they are at it.Report

  4. Avatar Jay L Gischer says:

    I agree with Vikram’s description of the brochures and advertisements as aspirational. I would think that they are a plus in the sense that they would show a minority or woman that, at some level, the institution is interested in having someone like them.

    And where they might fail is in showing that the institution has any clue as to how to deal with a person like them. How many idiotic comments in meetings would they have to endure? How many dumb racial stereotypes are going to show up in office email, or on bulletin boards? And so on.

    I’m rarely, but not never, in the situation of not being the normal person the group expects, and it can be uncomfortable. Still, I’m hardly an expert, that just seems like it might be an issue.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

      The other problem with aspirational ads is that they often neglect the amount of work it takes to get there. How many years did it take to get there. Did she work as an intern for two summers? Where did she start, both geographically, and positionally? How much sexism and harassment did she tolerate to get there? Etc.Report

  5. That’s before she heads “back to work”, which looks like this

    Why is she wearing her gardening shoes?Report

  6. Avatar atomickristin says:

    Vikram, I know I say this all the time but I love the way your mind works.

    Another great piece, really enjoyed it. Thanks so much.Report