All Other Things Being Equal
When I make a hiring decision, he said, I don't just look at technical skills. I also consider how well the applicant can get along with the other team members. For instance, if we're all talking about the NCAA basketball playoffs while we're waiting for a program to run, the guys aren't going to feel comfortable with someone who asks "What playoffs?"
It seems to me that you're very likely to end up with less qualified workers, I told him, if you're making decisions based on superficial factors such as chatting about sports.
I make sure the applicants have the technical qualifications, but all other things being equal, I'll hire the person who has the best social skills.
You know, this is the same excuse that was often used to avoid hiring women a generation ago, that they didn't know how to chat about sports and play golf and so forth.
No, it's different. Guys don't feel uncomfortable around women who don't understand sports, because we don't expect them to be big sports fans. But we really don't like being around other guys who can't act the way regular guys are supposed to act.
I don't see any difference between hiring only sports fans because you're more comfortable with them and hiring only people of the same race or ethnicity because you're more comfortable with them.
We're not talking about a minority race. We're talking about geeks and nerds.
Geeks and nerds are people too, and much of their behavior is based on genetic factors. This is just as much of a diversity issue as race or gender. Our society needs to learn how to be comfortable with a much broader variety of people.
Maybe so, but society isn't going to change overnight. It takes many years to change people's expectations and their comfort levels.
All the more reason to start making the changes now.