[Baypiggies] One amusing job story

Roderick Llewellyn roderick at sanfransystems.com
Wed Feb 2 07:50:26 CET 2011

Many years ago, I talked to a company which made software systems for 
police and fire departments. The guy told me that the actual inside 
employees within these departments with whom I would be working were 
typically officers who were too violent on the street, so they got 
assigned desk jobs; thus they were the ones the developers like me would 
get to work with. During the interview, the guy looked at me rather 
sharply, and said "by the way, if you think these guys [the cops and 
firemen] don't like blacks, you're right, but you should know that they 
hate gays above all". I got the message loud and clear. He was telling 
me that if I happened to be gay (I am!) don't bother applying for this 
job. He was I think giving me useful information; he wasn't necessarily 
telling me that the employer would discriminate, but that the clients 
(cops & firemen) would not work well with certain types of people.

I've since seen this kind of message even in printed job postings, such 
as "must like snowboarding" (not from a board company), "we play loud 
alternative rock music 24-7" (not from a music company), "must have a 
fast trigger finger in half-life or halo" (not from a gaming company). I 
tried applying anyway to these firms, of course, I never heard back.

To those who mentioned that in their countries of origin, it is routine 
to give certain personal data: I think that cultural framework is 
important. Since giving age is not standard here and it may be illegal 
in certain cases to even ask it, someone like Glen is right to react 
strongly. Asking it is certainly evidence that the firm intends to 
discriminate on that basis. In a culture where everybody routinely is 
asked and gives that info, it may mean much less. If someone asked me my 
religion in an interview, I'd probably say something like "I believe in 
a God who sends people to hell who ask my religion". Of course I 
wouldn't get the job! But I wouldn't want it anyway.

Roderick Llewellyn

More information about the Baypiggies mailing list