Bias by Proxy

We want to change the way our kids get their first job in years to come.

A lot happened in 2019. For me personally, my two kids got a little bigger and cuter, my beloved Liverpool became Champions of Europe for the sixth time, and along with two of my good friends and colleagues, we went full throttle with our belief on our inclusion platform, CandidateX.

Such is the belief in our idea that a decision was made to downsize the growth of a revenue-generating recruitment business (my two co-founders owned) to enable focus on it.

Why take the risk? We’re all in our mid to late 30s, lucky enough to have kids and a mortgage plus little by means of cash to invest into the new co — so a big gamble. Seems mad and frankly it is!

Well, it’s because we have a need to do more, be better people and leave a legacy beyond “things” we own, bought with money we may have earned filling roles for faceless organisations that commoditise our networks. We want to change the way our kids get their first job in years to come.

CandidateX is a summation of a number of ideas and experiences the three of us have endured in the working world. From my co-founder Sunil’s own experience of changing his name to Simon on his CV when he was job hunting, just so recruiters would respond to him. Or my meeting with a young legal associate who dreads Mondays when his manager asks him what he did, since he can’t mention his boyfriend as he fears him coming out would limit his career prospects. Real situations that shouldn’t happen — and believe me, there are literally hundreds more like this that people have shared with me.

All of us at some point in our lives have felt exclusion. May have been when we were children, at home or even an hour ago during a meeting. All of us have felt the anguish, fear and sadness from this. At work, where more and more of us spend each day, this needs to change.

To cement our decision further, on day two of the new year back at the office, I received a message from a fintech — a rapidly-growing business looking to fill an urgent role.

Along with the job requirement the accompanying message from the founder was candidates must be “native speakers, female and young”. My heart sank. Recruitment is transactional: if you don’t deliver what the client actually wants, you won’t get paid. I’ve been doing it for 15 years and this isn’t the first time, but I (and we) certainly hope this will be one of the last. Needing the fees to fund our start-up meant we needed to undertake this mandate. But to do so meant also adopting their bias by proxy.

With the support of everyone who believes in genuine inclusion, equality, transparency and fairness in the workplace, hopefully this will happen soon.

If the above resonates with you, please like and share. Tell us about your experiences with inclusion at work.

By Man Wong


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