I live and work in Boston (software development industry). We have a large population of one religious minority and many managers hire predominantly coders from this same religion. (I know this from personal observation.)

Now, I understand that racial minorities tend to be discriminated against, and therefore, one way to fix that problem is to perform some sort of 'affirmative action'. But I don't see this religion being discriminated against here. I think women and racial minority candidates are more likely to face discrimination.

So, with that in mind, is it appropriate if I hire predominantly coders of a different religion? I know it sounds "bad", but think about it. Say two coders - one a religious minority and another a racial minority both apply for a job at my company. If I don't hire the religious minority applicant, he'll go to any other company and probably get a job immediately. But if I don't hire the racial minority applicant, he won't be able to find another one quite as easily.

  • 5
    While there's a lot of negative attention to this - I would highlight that the question "should I positively discriminate for the ethnic/gender minorities" is something that a lot of people would reply "yes" to. This question just happens to highlight that positive discrimination for group X is negative discrimination against not group X. The fact that there are lots of pushes to introduce positive discrimination for various groups in various places - eg women in STEM, has lead, unsurprisingly, to confusion. So let's keep to answering the question and not hating the asker
    – UKMonkey
    Commented Feb 25, 2019 at 15:41
  • 2
    It can happen sometimes that a workplace ends up with a majority of some demographic group rather than another. People tend to hire from their social and professional networks and sometimes that ends up getting lopsided towards one group. I was once hired into a department where almost everyone was muslim, turned out, it was because they all went to the same mosque. That isn't sustainable indefinitely, and eventually such pools of people will run out and they'll be forced to hire from outside their immediate community (that's how I ended up there).
    – teego1967
    Commented Feb 25, 2019 at 16:02
  • Unable to post this as answer, likely because marked as duplicate: As long as you hire the person you deem most suitable for the job, favor or disfavor will be brought to you, and you'll feel confident defending your choice - if your fear an upset. If you have more than one on your shortlist equally suitable, it's your freedom as employer to choose any of them, and you should feel confident defending your choice. Commented Mar 3, 2019 at 0:05

9 Answers 9


You should hire the candidate that is best qualified and the best fit for the position being offered regardless of their sex/race/religion...etc. Doing otherwise could result in a potential lawsuit for your company.


If job applicants from ethnic minority X are being selectively and preferentially hired by other companies in your area then you will naturally have fewer applications from minority X applicants.
Assuming other factors are equal, this will lead to you hiring fewer minority X employees, simply because there are fewer of them available for you to hire.

There is no problem here for you to solve.
Simply hire the best applicant for the position.


There's a very easy way to save yourself a lot of mental and legal hassle:

Don't worry about it.

  • It's not your place to right the wrongs of Jewish hiring managers.
  • It's not your place to tip the cosmic balance of non-Jewish programmers.
  • It's not your place to consider your applicant's demographics when hiring.

Follow those simple rules, substitute Jew with whatever other demographic piques your fancy at any given time, and you'll be just fine. Yalla.


Let's assume that your initial descriptions are correct: at many other firms in your area, Jewish managers show a bias in favor of hiring Jewish candidates.

STOP: Right off the bat, that's sounds incredibly anti-Semitic. So you're going to have to back it up. Which means "providing clear, objective evidence", not saying "well everyone knows those guys stick together."

If you are correct, and there really is an identifiable pattern of discrimination in hiring, then find a friend who is a lawyer, describe your evidence to her, and ask her for 5% of the punitive award from any lawsuits she files against those companies in exchange for the evidence. You will shortly be rich enough to retire.

Now you ask, "I think those guys are doing this thing that will get them sued into bankruptcy, so is it okay if I do the same thing over here at my company?"

Of course not!

This is exactly the kind of group stupidity that your mother warned you about: "If all the other banks are investing heavily in Collateralized Debt Obligations, shouldn't my bank do it too?"

Finally, let's have a look at the end of your question:

I know it sounds "bad", but think about it. Say a Jewish and a black applicant applies for a job at my company. If I don't hire the Jewish applicant, he'll go to any other company and probably get a job immediately. But if I don't hire the black applicant, he won't be able to find another one quite as easily as the Jew.

Let's say two people apply for a job at your company. And let's say there's a really obvious reason to hire one over the other. You're done - hire that one!

Instead, let's say two people apply for a job at your company. And let's say there's no obvious reason to hire one over the other. They're basically the same level of desirability, and it's "yes" in both cases. Now, why are you suggesting the black one can't get hired? Because that's pretty racist.

I'd suggest that you have a problem with racism. Both personally, and possibly within the company. If you're in a position where you are going to make a significant number of hiring decisions, you need to take steps to mitigate it. Talk with HR about anonymizing the resumes that you see, or providing summaries. Maybe one of your junior technical people can work with HR to rewrite candidate CVs into a common voice, and abstract away identifying data like applicant names, names of institutions, and employers.

Alternatively, there are companies out there that perform "level 1 technical interview" services, so your HR group can scan resumes, submit the names and contact data for an interview, and get feedback without having to spend company time on the process.


This question is using demographics and stereotypes to form a case.

You hire the person who is most capable and fit to do the job. The person who is the best fit for the job should be chosen regardless of what you class them as.

Your company may also suffer legal issues for discrimination if you deliberately hire people who aren't Jewish simply because of the fact that you didn't want to hire the Jewish person.


Hiring and promoting people based on ethnicity or religion is illegal according to various anti discrimination laws. If what you claim is true (and not just yet another antisemitic conspiracy theory), those companies are violating the law.

However, responding in kind by discriminating against those demographics which get preferential treatment in other companies would also violate the law. Two wrongs don't make a right. You might want to ask your lawyer if they ever saw an employer win an anti-discrimination lawsuit with the "but everyone is doing it!" defense. I am not a lawyer, but I am pretty sure the answer is no.

And besides that, it's also a bad idea from a business perspective. In order to build a successful company, you want to hire the best people you can get, not the people who fit your racial profile. When you do not discriminate and others do, you have a competitive advantage.


In addition to already great answers, I would add that it doesn't solve the problem at all. It worsens the situation.

If I don't hire the Jewish applicant, he'll go to any other company and probably get a job immediately. But if I don't hire the black applicant, he won't be able to find another one quite as easily as the Jew.

If every non-jewish stop hiring jewish people, maybe jewish will find another job, but only with a jewish manager. You just make the segregation bigger.


As a company with non-Jewish management, you should promote diversity and provide equal opportunities for all candidates, regardless of their race, nationality, religion, gender, physical or mental disabilities (unless you want a lawsuit filled against you). And you shouldn't bother yourself with practices of companies with Jewish management, they may selectively hire Jewish candidates but that's their choice.

Think of it the following way. The co-existence of companies with diverse staff and companies with predominantly Jewish staff brings even more diversity into the industry.


No, you shouldn’t unilaterally implement your own affirmative action policy based on anecdotal evidence. Even if you had hard data to back up your assertions, (not to suggest it doesn’t exist but I don’t see any references in your post), you’d simply be giving more munition to people on both sides who think the odds are stacked against them.

That said, it’s good that you’re interested in promoting ethnic diversity in the workplace. A better way to do it, though, would be to broaden the pool of applicants you interview.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .