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Recently the big news story was Brendan Eich and his stepping down as the CEO of Mozilla under pressure from his board due to the calls for his firing by OKCupid and their followers. Six years earlier, Mr. Eich wrote a personal check to a cause that he supported aimed at defeating a gay marriage law in California. According to everything I have read, he had never been accused of discrimination or any unlawful act in his professional responsibilities. At issue was what cause he chose to support as a private citizen...the same stance, by the way, that Barack Obama held at the same time. OKCupid believed that his own personal beliefs and contributions from 6 year prior were grounds for him to lose his employment at Mozilla, where he had been employed for 13 years.

As someone in the recruiting industry, I've begun to ask myself how this scenario will impact how recruiters will do their job, and how they will need to respond to hiring managers or clients who may want to know more about their potential candidates. Although I haven't been asked to yet, what if a client asks me to lead a search for them and they only want people who support gay marriage? Or what if I have a client who says they only want to see candidates who are against gun control? Or pro-life? Or pro-choice? What if they want financial records for the past 10 years to make sure they haven't donated to a charity or a cause that the hiring manager doesn't personally support?

Obviously, I cannot legally ask these questions. Or at least I can't yet. But is that where we are headed? Will recruiting take on more of a private investigator persona so we can only have people working alongside us who think identically to the way we think?

It is troublesome to consider these scenarios. Individuals should be able to form and hold their own personal opinions, beliefs, and convictions. They should be able to support a cause if they feel it appropriate and lawful. If they can maintain those opinions, beliefs, and convictions without unlawful issue in their professional lives, then so be it. Mr Eich's story is something all of us should consider. It isn't about what side of the gay marriage argument you support. The next time, it could be another hot button topic that you adamantly oppose, and someone just like you could be fired because the boss doesn't see things exactly as you do.

Share your thoughts with me...is this where we are headed?

Views: 42

Tags: Human Resources, candidates, opinions, political, recruiting, screening, views

Comment by Keith D. Halperin on April 11, 2014 at 5:09pm

ISTM that in 2014 America, a public figure who wishes to express a controversial opinion first needs to make absolutely crystal clear that s/he represents no one besides themselves.

-kh

Comment by Doug Douglas - DX2 Consulting on April 12, 2014 at 10:26am

In Eich's case though, he made no opinion known. Someone researched a donor list and saw his name and then went after him. I agree with you though Keith, if they are a public figure (which I don't know that the CEO of Mozilla would be considered that), they might need to clarify that it is their personal opinion and not a brand that they are identified with. This is just tough anyway you look at it.

Comment by Keith D. Halperin on April 14, 2014 at 11:43am

Interesting. If Eich *did act as a private citizen, (and made no attempt to link his opinions to Mozilla) and got outed, then I think his being forced out was wrong. I believe that you should leave your beliefs it at the workplace door- what happens inside is what you should be judged by (with some exceptions).

-kh

*I don't know all the details, and have heard contrary opinion -that he identified himself as an employee of Mozilla.

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