[Here’s the entire series in case you missed previous chapters]
While they were still digesting Zelda’s Sherry tray bombshell, and knowing that the thorough search for it would take many hours or even days, DCI Fritz picked up his reporting with the results of his team’s meetings with the candidates whose file folders were on Cummins’ desk when he died. These were the rejected candidates with those color-coded tick marks on their file tabs.
According to his team, all of the candidates who had been rejected were members of one or more of the protected classes whose definitions Ms. Patel had provided before his team began their interviews or members of a demographic group which, while not protected by regulation, was a major focus of Great Software’s diversity and inclusion program. That in itself was very revealing because, although his team were not trained recruiters, the combination of the candidate CVs and how well they handled their interviews suggested that at least some of them should have been offered positions.
And there was one more thing. In each case, where an otherwise qualified looking candidate — at least on paper — was turned down, it was Mr. Cummins, so not the hiring manager as had been the more usual procedure, who spoke with them and apologized, apparently sincerely, that they had not been offered a position. Reasons for their not being given an offer ranged from budgetary considerations and more experience desired to the position having already been filled or that the candidate was not a good cultural fit for the team, all vaguely stated and with no detail offered. Several of the candidates had commented that, in their experience, such feedback made them suspect discriminatory hiring practices, but it wasn’t a point that any of them intended to push lest it cost them other opportunities.
Ms. Patel picked up at this point and reported on her meetings with a number of the tick-marked hiring managers. She had known many of them for years so was not surprised that they were as mystified (or at least appeared to be) as the candidates were about why specific candidates had not been forwarded by Mr. Cummins with a recommendation to hire. Here too a series of vaguely stated reasons were given, e.g. failed background check, candidate decided to accept another offer, and maximum allowed salary range was well below candidate’s expectations. Of particular concern to Ms. Patel was that these hiring managers were losing valuable business results because it was taking so long to fill key positions.
Sitting quietly while Fritz and Patel shared what they had learned, Zelda found herself with a new train of thought. Why would Cummins be rejecting at least superficially well-suited candidates for key positions with vague explanations to both hiring managers and the candidates themselves? Knowing the pressure that the open chief architect position was placing on her project’s chances of success, she understood that her fellow hiring managers would also be feeling that pressure and would be relaying it to Mr. Cummins, as she had been doing, on a regular basis. So why would a recruiter, whose raison d’etre was to satisfy the hiring needs of people like her, appear to be using phony explanations to cover up an apparently discriminatory recruiting process whose results were putting his own success, even his employment, in jeopardy?
At least to Zelda, this looked as though Mr. Cummins was acting against his own self interest, and that led her to another thought. The only explanation Zelda could come up with was that Mr. Cummins’ behavior was in response to pressure from someone with greater negative influence, even power, over Mr. Cummins than the inner-directed pressure she had always seen in him to be responsive, first and foremost, to his customers, so to those hiring managers. But how could someone have that much influence or control over Mr. Cummins? And who could that someone be? When Fritz and Patel had wound down a bit, Zelda shared these thoughts with some trepidation, fearing that the other two would think she’d been reading too many thrillers.
Stay Tuned For Chapter XVII
(Cross-posted @ In Full Bloom)