It can happen before anyone in HR even realizes it: Managers or supervisors begin hiring applicants with ethnic or national backgrounds similar to their own. Suddenly, your organization chart begins to look like you favor members of one ethnic or national-origin group to the exclusion of others.
If you notice an unusually high number of similar employees concentrated in a division or section, it’s time for a frank talk about diversity. More important, it’s time for real efforts to make sure your staff fairly reflects the makeup of the overall work force.
Recent case: Vassos Marangos, who is of Greek origin, quit his job with Flarion Technologies and then sued the company. His allegations? That only engineers and technical experts who were natives of the former USSR got choice positions and promotions. Plus, he resented the fact that they often discussed technical issues in their native language, which Marangos did not speak.
Marangos showed the court an organization chart that clearly showed an engineering division composed almost exclusively of employees with Russian surnames. Fortunately for the company, it could produce a much more recent org chart—one showing that the Russian enclaves no longer existed by the time Marangos quit. The court tossed out the case. (Marangos v. Flarion Technologies, No. 07-2855, 3rd Cir., 2008)
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