Thoughts on Adverse Impact: Part 2

In my previous post, Thoughts on Adverse Impact Part 1, I offered my suggestions on how to plan and think about an adverse impact study. Summarizing and reviewing some of my main points:

From the Practitioner Perspective, adverse impact involves a technology, not a science.

  • The ways in which we prepare for, calculate, and interpret the results of an adverse impact analysis are guided primarily by the Uniform Guidelines and case law, as opposed to strict principles of statistics.
  • Adverse Impact can be defined as practical or significant differences in selection rate as a function of protected group status.

In this month’s blog, I deal with more commonly discussed issues, such as various approaches to quantifying adverse impact and the sequencing of tests. Again, as a caution, this blog does contain my opinions on a controversial topic. In addition, although I have tried to simplify the discussion, this is a complex topic and it would be difficult enough to explain in a long article or book, let alone a blog.

Distinguishing Between Adverse Impact and Subgroup Differences

Although adverse impact and subgroup differences between protected classes are distinct concepts, the two terms are often used interchangeably, not only in the practitioner literature but by experts who should know better. In order to appreciate some of the issues in the analysis of adverse impact, one must first develop an understanding of the difference between these two frequently confused concepts. Continue reading

Thoughts on Adverse Impact: Part 1

  • If your head hurts just thinking about adverse impact. Cheer up, you are not alone.

A long time ago, I had an international student ask me why my class was not titled Thoughts of Professor Doverspike; in her country, all classes were simply listed as Thoughts of Professor _____. I have always thought that was a wonderful idea and so this month’s blog is Thoughts on Adverse Impact (actually, I originally titled it Thought on Adverse Impact, but I was unsure whether that was a typo, a Freudian slip, or an accurate depiction of my limited cognitive ability).

I have spent most of my professional life, which now amounts to over 35 years, dealing with adverse impact issues. During this time period I have found that most human resource professionals, from the novice to the experienced employment attorney, struggle when it comes to understanding even the basics of adverse impact.

From the Practitioner Perspective, adverse impact involves a technology, not a science. Thus, in my opinion, the ways in which we prepare for, calculate, and interpret the results of an adverse impact analysis are guided primarily by the Uniform Guidelines and case law, as opposed to strict principles of statistics. Therefore, after offering a brief definition and thoughts on technology, I first offer up my suggestions on how to plan and think about your adverse impact study. In my next blog, I will deal with more commonly discussed issues, such as various approaches to quantifying adverse impact, the sequencing of tests, and the interpretation of results.

As a serious caution, this blog does contain my opinions on a controversial topic. It would not be difficult to find other experts who might disagree with some of my recommendations and conclusions. Continue reading