“Zappos Insiders” Employment Practices: Benevolent Discrimination: Type A Personality “Neurotypicals” need only apply

Zappos takes the ax to job postings and develops its own Social Media network to evaluate potential hires. Demonstrate passion for the company and its products publically and perhaps you can be one of the chosen few to have their resume and credentials reviewed for employment. Innovative perhaps, but it limits their field of candidates to the engagers, the Type A personality social types who typically come from a background of privilege, are overwhelmingly white and come from higher socio-economic statuses. Do offline inequalities restrict employability under Zappos new practice / prejudice with all other datasets being equal?

Benevolent prejudice represent an especially insidious form of bias. The insidious impact of which is that the targets of the prejudices might buy into them. Neuro-atypicals, unable to properly participate in the Zappos social community will be locked out of employment and buy in that they are not good enough to work at exciting innovative companies. Benevolent prejudices are so superficially positive that there seems nothing to feel guilty about.

The fact that Zappos received 31000 applications last year and only hired 1.5% tells me that their recruiters are doing their jobs. Weeding out the wheat from the chaff. The Truck Drivers and Bakers who are applying for Developer jobs or Marketing roles. The newly minted University graduate with the ubiquitous BA in Communications applying for a Senior Adviser role. The smart and keen and highly Social Media Savvy person applying for the Account Executive role without ever having done a sales job or carrying quota. There isn’t a problem with this method. It is in fact the market economics of education and verifiable experience as it relates to the core functions of a job. Choose your education and employment decisions wisely and the world is your oyster.

To demand that potential new employee’s must socially engage with a company and “buy in” to their core values suggests that a for profit company has intrinsically moral values. That isn’t to say that a company cannot be socially conscious while operating in a for profit environment, but let’s not kid ourselves, assigning values to an incorporated entity assigns them morality as well and there is nothing inherently moral about discrimination.

Zappos Insiders, judging from the sidelines as a parent of 2 neuro-atypicals, ranks up there with companies demanding Facebook passwords.

How will this new system stand up to the rigors of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA)? What about candidates who might have the appropriate knowledge, skills and abilities to work at Zappos in a meaningful capacity but due to personal challenges they are unable to contribute and stand out on Zappos Insiders? 1 in 68 children in the US today are diagnosed with Autism, a pervasive neurodevelopmental disorder that primarily affects one’s ability to communicate. With their above average intellect, unique outside the box perspectives and hard work attitude, is the Zappos Insider hiring program meant to cleanse the Zappos Resume database of “undesirables” before their experience and value can be judged?

The program sounds Benevolent enough, but only those with the time, Social Media savvy and socially acceptable “neurotypical” perspectives and communication styles will rise above the rest. The Zappos cream rising to the top tastes sour.