I was recently interviewed for a job with a high profile charity. I thought the interview process was ethical and was impressed with the way the organization assessed what individual differences I would bring to the position.
According to Penn State’s ethics and leadership class, individual differences include four categories: personality, motivation, intelligence and biodata.
How did they do about gathering the most amount of information for each of these factors? Well, I believe personality shines through at all points throughout the interview process, and the interviews were constantly taking notes as they spoke to me. To determine my intelligence, they gave me a written test with problems I would have to solve while in the role. Motivation: they asked about projects I worked on in the past that I was proud of and the career goals I had for myself. Lastly, for biodata, I feel like you’re assessed mentally. As soon as interviews hear your voice, see your face or even just read your name, they are making assumptions and judgement based on your genetics. As a Caucasian woman I did not feel like my biodata would hinder my chances at getting the role.
That is, until they spoke with my references.
I had one of my references tell me that one of the questions was, “If Amanda was to leave this job in six months, what do you think the reason would be?”
It forced me to think about why they would ask such a question. First I thought it was because they were trying to see if I was committed to the jobs I take on. But that’s silly; my resume clearly outlines I’ve been with organizations for many years and I was not a fleety person. The only response I could think of was to gauge if I was likely to take a maternity leave soon.
This is an interesting way of technically staying within ethical boundaries, but it still left me with a bad taste in my mouth.
Upon further research, I realized that according to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, an employer can outright deny hiring a woman if she’s pregnant, if the company has fewer than 15 employees.
This still seems wrong to me and in my mind, does not align with the American Psychological Association’s ethical principle E: Respect for People’s Rights and Dignity. It stipulates that psychologists have to be aware of vulnerabilities (which includes pregnant woman) and have respect “the dignity and worth for all people.”
As for me, I landed the job. But I’m aware that being single may have worked to my advantage.
American Psychological Association. (2010). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct: Including 2010 amendments. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/ethics/code/ (Links to an external site.)
Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VII. U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Retrieved from http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/titlevii.cfm
Pennsylvania State University. (2016). PSY 533 SP16 Unit 08. [Online Lecture]. Retrieved from: https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1775390