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How can employers avoid discrimination in their hiring processes?

Posted by: Elena Craigie

We all know it’s against the law to treat someone less favourably than someone else based on their religion, gender, age or sexuality – but it’s also quite easy for many people to slip into discriminatory practices without realising. So how can you avoid accidentally falling foul of discrimination laws?

Obviously there are certain circumstances where specific groups would be best to fulfil a role – e.g. if it’s a position in a religious institution then obviously there are instances where a follower of that particular religion would be needed to fulfil the position’s responsibilities. For the most part, however, there is no place for discriminatory hiring in any workplace.

1. Work out exactly what the criteria are for the job role.

Write a list of the responsibilities and qualities that candidate will need to fulfil/have. That way, from the offset, you have in mind the criteria needed to meet the job specification, rather than the abstract “sort of person” you’d like to hire.

Then ask yourself for each candidate’s CV if they will or will not be able to carry out these responsibilities, and if not, ask yourself why not? Do not move away from the responsibilities you’ve already outlined when deciding if a candidate is suitable for the role or not.

2. Advertise the role

Be conscious of the criteria you’ve already listed, and include these in the job specification. These alone should help to filter out candidates who cannot realistically do the job.

If there are specific tasks such as lifting and carrying, this information should be included explicitly in the job specification / job adverts. Do not simply write that the candidate must be “fit” or “strong” as this could be construed to be discriminatory. In a similar vein, take care not to discourage older candidates using phrases like “young.”

3. Receive the CVs and shortlist candidates for interview

If your application process is a form, rather than a CV, consider not including the candidate’s personal details. If you are simply receiving the CVs, it may be impossible for you to not see the candidate’s details but try to look at their experience first, and the name and date of birth (if included) last to ensure there is no pre-judgement based on the person's background.

When you exclude a candidate from the shortlist, ask yourself why they are either unable to fulfil the responsibilities of the role, or why they are less strong than shortlisted candidates. If this is due to the level of experience or skills they have expressed in their CV, that’s fine – if there is any other reason, you could be falling foul of discrimination laws.

4. Interview the shortlisted candidates

Steer completely away from any questions regarding the candidate’s background, religion, birthplace or other personal matters. If the candidate has an unusual name, don’t ask questions – if they get the job it’s perfectly reasonable to chat on a personal level in your working life, but this shouldn’t form part of your hiring practices.

Again, focus on the responsibilities, skills and qualifications needed to do the job. You can ask questions such as whether the candidate would be able to work overtime, but do not ask if they, for example, have children and would be able to arrange childcare. Just ask them if they can fulfil the responsibilities you’ve listed and you will be fine!

At WRS we are always here on hand to guide our clients and candidates through the hiring process so if you're confused about anything, we are here to help - just give us a call.
Recent Comments
It's not always the company that discriminates it can also be the government particularly when it comes to age and visas. I retired two years ago but decided recently that that was too soon . I am astonished at the age discrimination that exists.
James Gausden, 11 February 2017
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