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Step Up Against Hiring Discrimination

July 3, 2020

By Sheila Hoover courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

As talent acquisition professionals, we are all trained to hire the candidate who best fits the position description and company culture, no matter what race, religion, national origin, age, disability, or sexual preference the candidate is.  We know the consequences of not hiring the best skilled candidate because of bias in the workplace.  But do we really step up to ensure it does not happen?

It is our responsibility as professionals to really take diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging initiatives seriously.  We have the responsibility to train our hiring managers and use our influence to do what’s right.  The law forbids discrimination in every aspect of employment.

As stated by Ellie Collier in the Hub, “Remember: discriminatory practice in recruitment is often unintentional.”

So how do we avoid unconscious bias or discrimination during the recruitment process?  Collier’s tips below will assist you.

Identify the required skills for the position:  Be specific with the skills required to be successful in the job, so that any potential applicants can easily understand the skills and duties required.  You should remain objective when selecting skills and explain why each trait is important.  Be sure to outline which skills are “essential”, and which skills are “desirable.”

Create an inclusive job advertisement: Put simply, discriminatory advertising is against the law. Therefore, you must not include any language that could be seen as restrictive, such as “barmaid,” which suggests you are only considering female applicants.  Your advertisement must also focus solely on the skills that are needed to perform the job.  Including your “Equal Opportunity Employer” statement on your advertisement is essential.

It is also important to consider the platforms you are using to advertise your position.  Diversify your platforms to ensure you get a diverse pool of candidates and provide opportunities for people to apply in different ways.

Select a diverse group of candidates:  As you are reviewing resumes, only select candidates based on the criteria and skills you have set.  You cannot allow personal bias or stereotypes to affect which applicants you interview.  You must be consistent in your decision making and cannot let any protected characteristics influence your decisions.

Prepare for the interview: Carefully plan the interview with the full interview team.  Prepare the questions you are going to ask and ensure those questions cannot be perceived as discriminatory.  You should ask all applicants the same questions for assessing the key criteria; however, any subsequent questions following their answers may vary. All applicants should be given an equal chance to explain why they are the best person for the job. 

Do not ask questions based on protected characteristics: Human Resources professionals should train their interview team on what questions are illegal.  You cannot ask questions about family, nationality, or religious beliefs for example. 

Offer the job objectively: Offer the position to the candidate who best meets the skills required for your position.

Document: keep records of your decisions about who you hire and why, as well as your reasons for not selecting the other candidates you interviewed.

Non-discriminatory hiring is not a one-time learning event; “it’s a long slog of constantly doing self-checks, pausing to ask ourselves the hard questions, like ‘Would I say this about a white or male candidate?’ or ‘What exactly is it about this candidate that’s making me feel this way?’” says Kate Bischoff, ERE’s legal columnist. 

Step up in your community to build relationships with community-based organizations.  Step up to ask hard questions to hiring managers.  Why are they ignoring a particular candidate?  Step up to question the requirements of the position; is a college degree really necessary to be successful in this position?

Use your influence to educate your hiring managers and foster a diverse culture in your workplace.  It is the talent acquisition professional’s responsibility to step up against discriminatory and bias hiring practices.  Step up and speak up!

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