[W]e all know stories of toxic employees driving other people out of the company. The excuse we hear is that this person is “too important to fire.” It’s presented as a choice between firing this person or making some people uncomfortable, in which case it’s easy to keep this high performer around. But that’s not actually the choice you’re making.
When you choose not to fire someone who harasses women, what you’re really saying is, “This person is more important to my company than women are.”
You’d rather your organization and leadership discriminate against women, have them leave your company, and have your people and teams suffer all the psychological damage that results from choosing to protect one person over a whole class of people.
It’s the same for an employee who discriminates against minorities, veterans, disabled people, or any other group. You can keep that one person, or keep the ability to hire from that entire labor pool.
Of course, that toxic person won’t actually prevent you from hiring from a whole group. That would actually be better in the long run. Instead, you’ll hire a few, but they’ll only stick around long enough to be almost valuable to you. People who stick around for one to two years are incredibly expensive — but your toxic employee will cause them to leave. You get to pay to recruit and replace them, to train them up, to watch teams form, and then to watch them fall apart again. And again. All because you couldn’t make a hard call on one person.
Luke Kanies on bad apples.
This is about workplace hiring in tech startups, but is applicable to any community, and I’ve seen it happen in everything from fandoms to gaming guilds to after school sporting teams.