Collateral Damage: Your Firm’s Access to Talent
As a kid, your experience was probably similar to mine where you were at some point in the vicinity of bad behavior. Not your bad behavior (of course), but you were in the same zone as those who broke the rules or norms of acceptable conduct. Perhaps it was on the playground or in class, or perhaps it was at home with a brother or sister, but someone else did something that violated what the authority figure, be it teacher or parent, felt crossed the line. In response, you were called out or perhaps punished despite not having done anything wrong. You no doubt protested loudly, declaring your innocence. You tried to argue the facts to establish you were not to blame. It wasn’t right, but there you were facing the same punishment as the transgressor.
What does this all have to do with the IT & engineering staffing industry you ask? For those that missed it, 60 Minutes aired an episode on Sunday (which you can see here) which described in the most unflattering terms (which is a real understatement) how the H-1B visa had been used in a number of instances to replace American workers to save money. In response, you may want to argue that there is shortage of talent in high demand IT and engineering skill sets. (Just look at the government’s own data). That if your clients can’t assemble a team here, they are more likely to push the work offshore—“guaranteeing” the loss of American jobs. (You would be right). You may also point out that our industry does not engage in the behavior depicted in the 60 Minutes episode---we do not replace American workers with H-1Bs. (Of course we don’t). But such a refrain is not all that dissimilar to your protests of innocence as a kid. We as an industry may well be collateral damage to what other companies have done.
Where does this leave us? We must stand up and point out the differences. An overwhelming majority of the consultants we place are U.S. workers and green card holders. However, the foreign talent we place is critical to meeting the needs of clients.
Singular voices of protest are not enough. We as an industry must join as a chorus and educate policymakers on what we do, the value we provide and how were are different. In the face of these attacks and pervasive anti-immigration sentiment among many in positions of influence, we need you to register for Lobby Day, our legislative event in Washington, DC set for May 23-24 to take our message to Capitol Hill. If you can’t make it to Washington, spread the word by visiting your Member of Congress in your local District and State. We have produced materials you can use during your visit. We will also be holding a webinar on March 30th to prepare you to speak with your elected officials and their staffs on the H-1B issue.
While there are no guarantees our pleas will be heeded, to remain silent will almost assuredly result in our industry having less access to critical talent. Even if you don’t use any H-1Bs, an unfair attack on our business model and a more restrictive talent supply should be of great concern to all who are a part of this great industry. Will you and your team join the chorus? If not you, then who?