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Friday, May 06, 2011

Employment: Frankly, I Wouldn't Want to Sit Down for a Meeting

This week VIN ran a Press Release in which NY politician Dov Hikind insinuated that banks in the Boro Park area where engaging in discriminatory practices by not hiring enough Orthodox Jews and essentially demanding some sort of quota or affirmative action program:

(Press Release) Brooklyn, NY - Following a month-long survey of 22 local banks in Boro Park which revealed that the Orthodox Jewish community is not adequately represented in the existing workforce, Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) has organized a meeting with branch managers and human resources personnel to discuss community outreach strategies and potential vacancies. [. . . . ]

“Our findings revealed that more than a dozen banks serving the Borough Park community have not made a concerted effort to recruit, train or hire the best and the brightest that our community has to offer,” Hikind said. “Though we are aware of many qualified candidates, the character of the Boro Park community is simply not reflected in the workforce of local banks. An evaluation of the same financial institutions located in Crown Heights, Bedford Stuyvesant, and Chinatown found that the people who lived in those neighborhoods also worked in the local banks.”

Who knows why he chose to focus on the banking industry over other industries. Either way, few people I know like to be accused of discrimination. I'd say that is a pure chutzpah when there was no audit of employment applications to begin with. Nonetheless, representatives from banks agreed to a meeting with Hikind and the Emergency Parnassa Initiative (mentioned previously in the post "And if we have to pay them more they are worth every penny").

Hikind "secured commitments [from the banks] to conduct better outreach efforts to alert the community about vacancies and training opportunities" namely, asking the banks to post vacancies in Jewish and Yiddish publications, as the community doesn't as a whole use the internet. The Emergency Parnassah Initiative Executive Director announced:

“My organization will work with your recruiters to ensure that we send you candidates who have already been interviewed and vetted by us, so you don’t have to sift through hundreds of résumés. You know the people we send you will be appropriate.”

Those who are interested in being considered for positions at local banks should e-mail a résumé and cover letter to .

This all would be humorous if it wasn't actually true.

My recommendation to job seekers: if you want to work in a Boro Park bank, apply for the job through the bank's regular recruitment mechanisms. March yourself into several local banks that you are interested in working in and introduce yourself to the branch manager, inquiring of opportunities both within the local bank and other banks in the greater area. Inquire directly of the branch managers and human resources department what skills one needs for the jobs and what skills you should be picking up to advance in the industry.


JS said...

You have got to be kidding me. Right? Please?

I love this:
"...asking the banks to post vacancies in Jewish and Yiddish publications, as the community doesn't as a whole use the internet."

and this:
"Those who are interested in being considered for positions at local banks should e-mail a résumé and cover letter to"

Oh. The irony. It's killing me.

JS said...

Hkind should also engage in month long surveys of the Boro Park housecleaning industry, child care industry, grocery store industry, sanitation workers industry, etc. I bet they hire few Orthodox Jews from Boro Park as well.

It MUST be discrimination. It can't possibly be that Jews aren't applying for such jobs, right? Right!

Miami Al said...

Sounds like a shakedown to demand classified revenues for the Yiddish newspapers. Everyone else is moving to electronic resumes and databases, but jobs for the boys comes first.

Also sounds like this organization doesn't want jobs to go to the most qualified by the banks standards, sounds like a jobs program for people from the right families with the right connections.

Orthonomics said...

Oh. The irony. It's killing me.

JS--It is classic!

Miami Al-I wouldn't go that far. I just found the idea that the banks need a 3rd party involved with "vetting" resumes to be ridiculous.

Commenter Abbi said...

Sorry, hate to be annoying, but it's Hikind not Hinkind.

Miami Al said...


What else is there? This is a shakedown to employ people that aren't looking for jobs at the banks based on the organization's criteria.

This is straight out of the Rev. Al Sharpton's playbook. The collapse from proud upwardly mobile Jewish immigrants into inner city minority special interest group is nearly complete in just two generations.

Abba's Rantings said...


i'm going to have disagree with your post (first time for everything). certain types of service businesses in the outer boroughs *very* often staff based on local demographics. so with banks, go into a bank on eighth ave in brooklyn and all the workers will be asian. go to kings highway and they're all russian. etc. same for pharmacies, etc. (i remember once at a job fair the reps for one business were all over the frum students because they needed to staff a store in a frum neighborhood)

any business that involves more interaction than just "that'll be 23.99" will go out of their way to hire staff that speaks the same language and shares the culture of the local demographic.

yes, it is possible they didn't have enough frum applicants, but why not? i can't believe that there aren't enough qualified frum jews in all of brooklyn to work in a bank. you don't need an MBA

Dave said...

If the bank's saw a need, they would have been recruiting themselves, without being shaken down by a politician.

chaim b. said...

These same type tactics are practiced by other ethnic groups in NY. You can even get the fed. gvt. involved in the shakedown if you can even raise a suspicion that a business is not hiring the "right" quota of blacks, women, etc. My employer does a yearly survey to make sure it meets its "diversity" standards.

Mike S. said...

I am not so sure I agree. The original "Affirmative Action" was precisely for business that had not been welcoming to Blacks or women in the past to advertise in places where Blacks and women would see the advertisement to encourage applications. Even if the banks haven't quite realized it, it might well be a decent idea for them, assuming that having frum staff will be good for their local business.

Also, I am not sure when you last applied for a job, but if you walk in and ask to talk to a manager about applying for work you are fairly likely to be told to leave and apply on line.

Orthonomics said...

Mike S.--. . . .and then apply as instructed, "through the bank's regular recruitment mechanisms." Yes, the manager will tell you where to apply online!

In fact, I did inquire about banking jobs, grocery jobs, and jobs at Target when we thought we were about to have a bit of a cash crunch and I needed something quick with odd shifts. When I inquired about jobs at Target, e.g., I was pointed to the in-store terminals to apply for a job.

My understanding is that employers want to see that potential employees have enough competence to follow instructions and judge some of that by the ability to follow instructions. So if the employer wants a cover letter, write a cover letter. If the employer indicates something else is needed, do that.

The discussion of whether or not frum staff is good for business is something I choose not to speculate on.

Orthonomics said...

BTW, to clarify, I think it is absolutely, 100% noble, to inquire into each and every type of job that is out there in an effort to get Jews to work.

I don't think insinuating wrong doing is helpful to the community in the long run. Perhaps in the short term the banks will bring people in. In the long run, "affirmative action" can have a downside for the very people it serves.

Miami Al said...

Chaim B.,

"These same type tactics are practiced by other ethnic groups in NY."

Yes it is.

Which ethnic group that practices this do you believe is the model group that Orthodox Jews should base themselves on to get ahead in America?

Abba's Rantings said...

Nephew of Frum Actuary said...

Our local Chase has a number of Frum individuals on staff. Perhaps it is only Boro Park Jews who are being disciminated against.

Or perhaps the Frum Jews at the local Cahse branch speak English, and have customer interaction standards (will look at women when speaking to them, etc.) that will not lose the bank money and beg for a sexual discrimination lawsuit.

Abba's Rantings said...

Bob Miller said...

1. Jews, in particular, should establish the pertinent facts before going public with any complaint or demand.

2. The most relevant question for seriously Jewish politicians is "why are you still a Democrat?" It seems that the most unseemly tactics of non-Jewish Democratic politicans are being copied by some of ours, which is a sure sign of assimilation.

JRKmommy said...

False innuendo of discrimination is obviously nasty.

However, I don't see the harm in asking "why aren't there more of group X in this field?", and then working in a positive way to identify possible barriers to participation, and better ways to overcome them. Isn't this what affirmative action programs have been doing for years?

Obviously, the banks should give the same consideration to the "presented" candidates that they do to the regular online ones, as opposed to special treatment. It's possible, though, they no one had actually considered that a group wouldn't be applying due to lack of internet access.

The flip side, of course, is that any organization genuinely committed to helping frum Jews get jobs should review job search strategies, and make sure that candidates have a way of getting online. [I wonder if any part of this reflects an odd generational gap as well. My parents and in-laws were shocked when I mentioned that I get most of my clients through my website. Perhaps in Brooklyn, those who are part of the working world are more likely to be older, and folks are therefore getting outdated advice?]