Oh, how the (s)tables turned
Once again, I wanted to talk about recruiting practices, and how biased they can be. Wanted to write about the talent gap that we all believe exists and try to demystify it. I also wanted to mention more relevant existing skill gap and how skills can be thought and developed. While there, wanted to bring to the attention the diversification of the workforce by looking into the new talent pools. Instead, I'll talk about horses, it might sound odd right now, but please stay with me until the end — I believe it will be revealing.
Imagine a person that is looking for the best racing horse to compete in world-class competitions. He goes to the biggest training center and stables and starts looking at around 500 horses of all colors, sizes, and aptitudes, and he knows exactly what he wants. The stableman approaches him and wants to show him his best and fastest horses, but since our hero knows exactly what he wants he starts listing criteria of what type of horses he would like to see first.
He remembers when he was a child their family stables were full of beautiful white stallions, one of them came third in the Kentucky Derby. That's it — “I want to see all white and tall horses.”
Stableman is confused and hints “You know that the horse color has nothing to do with its performance?”
Horse seaker nods but since this is the best reference he has related to the racing horses, he still wants the white one. He continues: “And I want a male horse.” At this point, the stableman needs to bring some basic facts: “Some of the world’s best racehorses have been female. It might sound strange but female horses are equally strong and fast.”
Our hero is not convinced, he knows well that male specimens have more potential.
“Any other requirement sir?”
“Yes, I want only horses from the best stables and training centers that have at least a thousand kilometers in their legs.”
Stableman wants to try once again and says “Well, we have some young and wild horses that with just a bit of investment and time can become world-class racers. Also, some of them went through the “Running schools” and you know they train them to run there.” he tried to be funny.
“I understand, but this is how we´ve been choosing horses in my family since ever so why to change now.” he seemed convinced.
And there he was, presented with two white male horses, tall and experienced. Their results were not impressive and they didn't really seem to have a lot of potential. He was disappointed and left the training center convinced that there is a huge talent shortage when it comes to racing horses.
P.S. This story is a work of fiction. Any similarity to actual persons, or actual events, is purely coincidental. It does though quite well describe the recruitment processes and why someone might believe that there is a talent gap.