Discrimination in Recruitment: A Comprehensive Guide.
Discrimination in recruitment is a pervasive issue that businesses must address to ensure they engage in fair and inclusive hiring practices. The Equality Act 2010 outlines that discrimination in the recruitment and selection process is illegal, yet despite laws and policies being in place to prevent discrimination, many job seekers still face barriers to employment based on an increasingly wide range of factors. This not only results in missed opportunities for qualified candidates but also leads to a lack of diversity and inclusivity in the workplace.
Understanding Recruitment Discrimination
Discrimination occurs when employers or recruiters treat job applicants unfairly based on certain protected characteristics. These protected characteristics include age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and disability and it is important to note that discrimination can occur both directly and indirectly.
· Direct Discrimination
Direct discrimination happens when an employer treats an individual less favourably because of a protected characteristic. For example, rejecting an applicant solely based on their age or gender would constitute direct discrimination.
· Indirect Discrimination
Indirect discrimination occurs when an employer applies a provision, criterion, or practice that puts individuals with certain protected characteristics at a disadvantage. This practice may seem neutral on the surface, but in fact, has a disproportionate impact on a particular group. For instance, using a language requirement that is not relevant to the job may indirectly discriminate against individuals who do not speak that language fluently.
Creating Good Job Adverts
Creating inclusive and non-discriminatory job adverts is crucial to attracting a diverse pool of candidates. You must avoid stating or implying any form of discrimination in your job adverts; phrases such as ‘recent graduate’ or ‘highly experienced’ should only be used if they are genuine requirements of the job. If not, they may exclude certain age groups or individuals who may have the skills needed to excel in the role, but who have not had the opportunity to acquire specific qualifications.
It is essential to advertise job vacancies in a way that does not indirectly discriminate against any group. Consideration should be given to using a variety of platforms, including those accessible to a wide range of individuals, and advertising exclusively in specific publications or platforms that may inadvertently exclude certain demographics is something to avoid.
Asking the Right Questions
During the recruitment process, you must be cautious about the questions you ask candidates. Certain questions can infringe on an individual's privacy or lead to discrimination, so you must avoid asking candidates about protected characteristics such as their marital status, plans for having children, or trade union membership.
However, there are exceptions when it comes to health or disability-related questions. You may ask about health or disability if it is necessary for the job, to assess if reasonable adjustments are required, or to determine if the candidate needs assistance during any selection tests or interviews. Positive action can also be taken to encourage applications from disabled individuals.
Selection and Shortlisting Candidates
When shortlisting candidates, the focus must be on their qualifications, skills, and experience relevant to the job. You should create clear selection criteria based on the requirements of the role and ask the same set of questions to all candidates to ensure fairness and avoid any perception of discrimination.
You should also refrain from making assumptions about candidates based on certain actions or behaviours and give each candidate an equal opportunity to showcase their suitability for the role. Follow-up questions can be tailored to each candidate's responses, allowing them the opportunity to elaborate on specific areas of interest or expertise.
Making the Offer – or not
When making a job offer, you should only consider the candidate's suitability for the role based on the established criteria. It is generally not permissible to ask about a candidate's health or disabilities before making an offer. However, once an offer is extended, you are free to discuss any necessary adjustments or accommodations that may be required for the candidate to succeed in the role.
Providing feedback to unsuccessful candidates is considered good practice. Constructive feedback can help candidates understand why they were not selected and provide guidance for improvement in their future applications. You can also invite unsuccessful candidates to apply for future vacancies, acknowledging their potential growth and development.
Every recruitment process allows you to address under-representation and promote diversity in your workforce. The Equality Act allows you to choose a candidate with a protected characteristic over another candidate if they are equally suitable for the role. This can help you address under-representation and disadvantage associated with certain characteristics.
However, it is essential to make decisions on a case-by-case basis and not solely based on policies. Candidates should be selected based on their qualifications and abilities, rather than just their protected characteristics. You must ensure your actions are fair, non-discriminatory, and aimed at promoting inclusivity.
All employers have a legal responsibility to comply with the Equality Act 2010 and ensure their recruitment practices are non-discriminatory. Failing to do so can lead to legal consequences, including tribunals, financial penalties, and reputational damage to your business. Keeping pace with relevant employment legislation is crucial, as is seeking professional legal advice if you have any doubts or uncertainties.
Applying an Inclusive Recruitment Policy
To combat any discrimination in your recruitment effectively, you should establish an inclusive recruitment policy which clearly outlines your business’s commitment to fair and non-discriminatory practices. It should provide guidelines on creating job adverts, conducting interviews, and making job offers, ensuring compliance with legal requirements at each stage of the process.
Training and educating your staff involved in recruitment processes is key to promoting understanding and compliance, and regularly reviewing and evaluating your policy can help identify areas for improvement and ensure ongoing compliance with your legal obligations.
The Benefits of Getting it Right
Implementing non-discriminatory practices across your recruitment brings numerous benefits to your business. By attracting a diverse pool of candidates, you can tap into a broader range of skills, experiences, and perspectives and this diversity can lead to enhanced creativity, innovation, and problem-solving within your workforce.
A non-discriminatory recruitment process also helps create a positive employer brand, helping you attract top talent and fostering a reputation for fairness and inclusivity. Furthermore, it contributes to a harmonious and inclusive work environment, promoting employee satisfaction and retention.
The Importance of Getting it Right
Discrimination is a complex and serious issue that requires a multifaceted approach and one that can hinder business growth, limit diversity, and harm individuals if not addressed correctly. By ensuring that hiring decisions are based on merit and qualifications rather than personal biases, you can create fair and inclusive policies that value diversity and build a workforce that thrives on the strengths of individuals from all backgrounds.
Fostering an inclusive workplace starts with fair and non-discriminatory recruitment practices. Embracing diversity and promoting equality will not only benefit your business but also contribute to a more equitable society as a whole.
Apache Associates are specialists in IT and Sales recruitment, and we pride ourselves in treating every candidate as a unique individual and go above and beyond to match the right people with the right roles. We have a clear approach to recruitment based on people, not on numbers. Our clients receive a friendly and cost-effective service from experienced recruitment specialists designed to provide qualified candidates fast and effectively and we invest time to understand each candidate to ensure we offer openings that meet their dreams and aspirations.