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Weisblatt Law Firm, LLC $1000.00 Scholarship Winner Maeci Ray

Maeci Ray
Subject: “Many organizations are starting to take employee lifestyle choices (i.e smoking, political views, social media use, and general appearance) into consideration during the hiring process. As these choices are not explicitly protected by law, is it okay for an organization to reject a potential applicant based on these personal choices? Support your position.”

We are all responsible for our choices. Social media, email, texts, and all other electronic communications are ‘forever decisions’ in today’s world. This is something that my parents didn’t have to deal with and therefore did not warn about as I grew up. I am very thankful that my social media story does not include anything to incriminate or could otherwise potentially discourage future considerations from evaluating committees or potential employers. There is absolutely a way to express yourself without demeaning or criticizing another’s beliefs or feelings. I feel that I am ‘socially aware’ of how my messaging can affect others and I often encourage others to think twice before tapping the ‘post’ button.

Organizational culture is an intangible aspect that plays a vital part in the success of a company or firm. Synergies inside a company translate into effective and efficient employees. Positivity generated by those synergies often times spark innovation that in-turn improves revenue and ultimately, the bottom line. Companies like Apple & Google build intentional culture strategies into their yearly, recurring business plans because they are very aware of how much positivity means to a productive workplace.

The question becomes should employers use electronic media as a way to evaluate or otherwise critique personal choices and determine whether or not a person is fit to become part of their organization. When the aforementioned intangibles are considered, the answer to that question becomes a resounding, yes. Employers not only have the success of their organizations in mind when analyzing the talent pool for potential openings, they must consider the employees who have created the success they currently enjoy. Those people deserve only the best and most cohesive co-workers to sustain the synergies developed by loyal employees.

Again to this question of if an organization should consider electronic media past for prospective employees; when considered differently, if incumbent employees were to post something on social media that would reflect poorly on the company they represent, they would for sure face repercussions up to and including dismissal. If forward looking policies set that expectation of employee conduct, why wouldn’t the same considerations be made looking backward at prospective employees? Companies must set the standard with documented ‘Code of Business Conduct’ expectations for their current workforce and expect the same when considering those who could potentially join the team.

In consideration of the question to personal lifestyle decisions for potential applicants, the approach should be different than that of electronic media history. Many personal choices are protected by local and federal laws. Age, gender, religion and certain personal preferences are among those that should generally not be part of the elimination process for a majority of corporations in America.

Diverse backgrounds and ideas spur design thinking, innovation, and agile work environments. When competitive environments become turbulent, corporations must foresee potential roadblocks to success and adjust their approach to navigate through while maintaining profitability. Those companies who are quickest to adapt to change when faced with that turbulent change are those that will succeed. If an organization is comprised of an employee base with a common background, a common ideological approach, and a common problem solving mindset could fall flat when faced with adversity. Diversity  creates an environment of collaboration and partnership. Diverse backgrounds can create innovative approaches to attack an issue, solve quickly and get back to the business of serving customers and each other.

With that in mind, let’s reverse the approach to researching the past of prospective applicants. Instead of investigating one’s past to eliminate that person from consideration, looking into one’s past could be to help employer’s identify how that person could help their company further their approach to diversity and hence create a culture of innovation and agile problem solving.

One exception should be in those organizations in which personal choices are in direct contrast to the fabric of what the company is built upon. If personal decisions are in stark contrast to the base level priorities of a company’s charter, the inspection into an applicant’s personal life is important to the aforementioned culture they have painstakingly worked to establish. Hiring a person that could negatively affect the niche they have carved out could have irreversible affects on their success. For one, I am thankful that personal choices, electronic media, and lifestyles are not explicitly protected by law. Business leaders have many reasons for how they approach analysis of potential applicants. Some have ethical approaches, others are seeking a more diverse workforce, and still others are trying to guard against potential ‘land mines’ that could disrupt the established culture in their organization. Our capitalistic society needs innovative leaders who can set their business plans in place with culture in mind. Freedom to investigate potential applicants allows business leaders the ability to lead.

Steven Hanson

What can I say? I will never hesitate to recommend this firm to anyone. Personable, professional, honest and diligent. Period.

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713-666-1981