Published on The Daily Femme – Thursday, August 25, 2011
Contributed by Annamarya
In my home, engagements rings are a point of contention. My boyfriend wants to save up for a breathtaking rock, which would come with costs we can’t afford even if he does set aside funds. I personally don’t care about its worth or its potential grandeur. When the time comes to (officially) take our seven year courtship from heathen bedroom buddies to legally-recognized ugly-bumpers, I want the physical manifestation of that experience to be reflective of our wild would-do-it-all-over-again ride. It could be a stunning $50 CZ ring from AVON or a snazzy $3 slap bracelet. Yea, a slap bracelet would be awesome.
Either way, if he’s the one to formally pop the question first, his choice in jewelry will be wonderful no matter what. I want a ring (or a symbol, rather) not because of ownership or some archaic mating ritual I’ve been programmed to follow. It’s about our desire to have some type of thing to show that we’ve made a huge binding commitment–that we, children of divorce, are not afraid to succeed where our parents are considered to have failed. And have no doubts about it, he’ll get a ring (or symbol, rather) in return. This representation-of-our-love crap goes both ways.
But what I don’t expect from my future engagement ring is to be discriminated against because of it. And, according to a recent Huffington Post article, that’s not only a strong possibility–it’s also a recent reality.
The HuffPo piece centers around a Urbanbaby.com contributor who wrote a self-defined public service announcement telling women to ditch their “giant diamond rings” before attending an interview. The poster, who claims to be a hiring manager with five-years experience who works at a non-profit aiding victims of the conflict diamond trade in Africa, wrote: “Many people out there do not share your aesthetics or your cultural values, and the diamond carries a huge stigma for many many individuals…It’s just an unnecessary risk when you interview. Diamonds are offensive to many many people, so don’t risk it, leave the ring at home.”
The initial post is shrouded in terrible ignorance and judgment. While I lend a certain understanding to her position because of the non-profit’s purpose, deducting “points” for a diamond ring is discriminatory. The fact remains, she does not know where that ring comes from, and instead of advising something as personal and meaningful as an engagement ring be removed before an interview, she should instead engage in conversation with job applicants sporting a rock about said rock, especially since she is in the position to do so. After all, there is a chance that the woman is wearing an eco-friendly, ethical ring.
As expected, it has sparked a debate on the site that, notes the HuffPo article, goes beyond the diamond industry. In one case, a woman is suing the accounting firm KPMG for being denied a salary bump after her maternity leave because of her engagement ring. According to Karen Katz of Forum, a New York-based executive search firm, while “wearing a flashy engagement ring” is a personal decision, “it could be a damaging one.” And why is that? Because it can not only provide a distraction but also be seen as a sign that the job applicant doesn’t need the job or money.
While there is, of course, a sexist implication to this discriminatory practice– after all, as the author notes, there aren’t any documented cases of men being asked the cost of their partner’s ring (are we surprised?)–I’m more concerned that employers would dare consider something a superficial as a diamond ring as a determining factor for employment. To pass on an applicant who could potentially become the best, most productive employee you could only wish for or to deny an employee a raise just because they’re wearing a diamond ring? That’s not only absurd and discriminatory, it’s also reflective of the hiring manager’s inability to do the job effectively. How can you trust they’re not making decisions based on other superficial factors, like ear piercings, tattoos, hair color/cut..etc? You can’t. And in this struggling economy where job applicants outnumber available jobs, such inequity is something companies cannot afford.
Still, according to the article, not every manager feels the same way as the initial Urbanbaby contributor. For most organizations who responded to the Urbanbaby post, noted the author, work experience and education take precedence. And that’s how it should be.