If you’re in charge of recruiting for your company, you’re probably familiar with the general do’s and dont’s of the process. You already know about Title VII hiring practices, and at the very least, you’d like to avoid time-consuming and costly lawsuits for your company.
Beyond just avoiding lawsuits, it’s best to brush up on unfair hiring practices as a whole. A company that has an established, inclusive hiring process to ensure fair hiring will be much more attractive to employees and clients alike.
Employing people from many different backgrounds will allow diverse points of view in the office, which can increase project quality– and make you more attractive as an employer. People want to work for a company that’s inclusive and open-minded.
Customers and clients are also motivated to spend their money at a company whose views align with their own. That doesn’t mean you should hire people just based on political views– quite the opposite, actually– but an environment where many different views are represented will statistically be more appealing to more people.
What are Some Unfair Hiring Practices that your Organization Should Avoid?
The obvious ones that come to mind are covered under Title VII law: you can’t discriminate against candidates for their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, and in many states, sexual or gender orientation.
Unfair internal hiring practices go beyond discrimination, however. For example, during an interview, a recruiter’s unconscious bias might come into play when asking personal questions that are not relevant to the job.
Although it’s nice to have something in common with a candidate, like your alma mater or where you grew up, those things don’t influence the candidate’s actual skills and qualifications.
Hiring a candidate based on their alma mater, without proper regard for their qualification for the job, is an example of unfair hiring practice.
Proper and fair hiring practices can be followed from the very start of the process. In writing a job description to list an available position, you should strive for honesty and accuracy. This alone will ensure that the people who contact you about the position have the correct skills and qualifications that they’ll need for the position.
If, for example, the job description requires higher qualifications than are strictly necessary for the job, you might experience higher employee turnover– potential candidates want to have an accurate idea of what the job will entail before they submit their application. Ensuring accuracy will save you time as a recruiter.
It’s important not to discriminate against candidates for their educational background. Of course, if the job requires a certain level of education, that should be included in the job listing. Keep in mind what background is truly relevant to the position, however.
Including in a job listing that a master’s degree is necessary for an entry-level position is inaccurate– and an overqualified candidate may very well become a disgruntled employee who doesn’t stick around long.
Having a structured application process is helpful, but you can avoid unfair hiring practices by keeping it as short and sweet as possible. A lengthy, complicated application process will discourage applicants and waste their time.
One common example: if candidates upload their CV to an application form, it’s often not necessary to require them to fill out every detail of the CV in an additional form.
There’s a fine line between including all of the necessary components of an application with taking it too far.
Including skill tests is a great way to get an accurate feel for the qualifications of a candidate, so requesting that applicants take a test to assess their relevant skills is a good idea. Respecting applicants’ time should be made a priority.
How Can your Organization Ensure that its Hiring Practices are Fair?
One of the best ways to avoid unfair hiring practices is to utilize a data-driven approach to hiring. This means utilizing facts and statistics to select the best candidate. Sticking to the facts is a great way to avoid unconscious bias; even if you don’t think you’re biased, it’s simply human to possess some kind of bias.
Sticking to the data takes that human factor out of the process, at least at the start. You can utilize sophisticated analytics to create a streamlined, efficient hiring process that will benefit both the company and the applicant’s time.
This doesn’t necessarily have to be an expensive process; although there are software and analytics systems available to assist, you could start by simply requesting that applicants fill out a Google Form or similar. This process will help you view the data on its own, which will prevent bias and greatly reduce the risk of unfair hiring.
You can take steps to address unconscious bias within your organization. Start by considering your existing workforce. Do you notice any groups that might be underrepresented? Are there significantly more of one gender or race than others? These would be good starting points to consider during the hiring process.
Of course, a diverse HR team helps ensure diversity in hiring practices. If your recruiters, and the people in charge of interviewing, come from many different backgrounds, your company will enjoy an expanded perspective on applicants that results in a diverse workforce.
Continuing education is essential for recruiters and HR professionals. It should be a priority to seek out training on anti-discrimination practices and unconscious bias. This is something that all humans have to some degree, so there’s no shame in speaking about it directly. Simply trying to pretend it doesn’t exist is not a solution.
Establishing a clear set of policies regarding hiring practices is a great way to avoid unfair hiring. If your organization has a set of expectations and procedures in place for the hiring process, it will be easier to work within those guidelines to make the process easier and more efficient for everyone.
How Can your Organization Ensure that All Job Applicants are Treated Fairly?
Utilizing an AI-powered assessment platform uses data analytics to identify and avoid hiring biases can help your organization ensure that all job applicants are treated fairly. Finding a way to isolate objective data, like results of skills tests and relevant experience, is a great way to choose a candidate that is perfect for the position.
Again, focusing on the data eliminates the issue of unconscious bias that exists in all of us. You can even find automation software that will do the data analysis for you; automation is incredibly helpful in streamlining the hiring process and can do a better job keeping things objective than even the most seasoned and informed recruiter.
Regardless, it’s essential to keep everyone in your organization, particularly recruiters and HR professionals, up-to-date and fully informed on anti-discrimination laws and regulations. The best way to avoid legal issues is to be familiar with the law from the start.
Make sure that everyone responsible for selecting candidates for open positions is educated on how to avoid unfair hiring practices.
Creating a structure and a defined set of expectations for hiring practices can also prohibit discrimination within the hiring process.
A structured hiring process means that everyone responsible for hiring is following the same steps, which keeps things organized and methodical– another great way to avoid bias.
Creating automated skills tests is another way in which automation can become a useful part of the hiring process. Some recruiting sites, like Indeed, offer skills tests that candidates are required to take as part of the application process.
These skills tests are completed through the recruiting site and kept on file for applicants to apply to multiple positions, which means that the recruiters themselves aren’t responsible for creating the test and can rely on the site’s objective evaluation of the skills that are necessary for the job.
What are the Consequences of Unfair Hiring Practices?
At the end of the day, the primary goal in the hiring process is to find people who are just right for the job and will enjoy doing it.
Employee turnover is very expensive to employers and detrimental to job performance; spending the time and resources to train an employee who isn’t willing to stick around is wasteful and can affect the general quality of your organization’s work output, no matter what industry you’re in.
If the proper procedures and guidelines aren’t followed during the hiring process, and if recruiters aren’t made aware of their implicit, unconscious bias, the quality of the candidates being considered for an open position will most likely suffer.
This will ultimately result in people who are qualified for the job not getting hired and being passed over for someone else who might have something in common with the recruiter but doesn’t possess the necessary skills and experience that are required for successful employment at the company.
A workplace that is lacking in diversity is more likely to become a hostile or toxic work environment. Hiring people from all kinds of backgrounds is an essential part of creating a company that runs like a well-oiled machine.
A wide variety of perspectives helps with creativity, interaction with clients, interpersonal office relationships, and more.
True diversity means that the workforce is composed of all kinds of people– a single “diversity hire” will not positively impact the office environment, and may contribute to an even more toxic situation.
Consider this unfair hiring practices example: one person of a different religious background, gender, or race is hired to a team that consists of a single gender, race, or religious background.
The single “diversity hire” will likely not feel empowered or even safe contributing their alternating opinion within the group, and may even feel alienated. This is potentially a factor in employee turnover as well.
If that “diversity hire” is singled out or discriminated against within the work environment, they will also not feel safe taking action regarding the discrimination. Being the single dissenting voice in an otherwise unified group can be scary.
Just like that one, there are many examples of unfair hiring practices, even if they aren’t extremely noticeable or jump out like others more flagrant.
Experiencing discrimination or harassment as a result of toxic company culture is scary, in addition to being illegal.
An employee who has experienced discrimination or harassment (and doesn’t feel as though the issue can be resolved within the company) will probably leave their job as soon as they’re able to do so. In addition to costing the company money– to reiterate: employee turnover is expensive and should be avoided– this also makes the company look bad.
If a company becomes undesirable in the eyes of potential applicants, virtually every aspect of its performance will be negatively impacted; if this happens to your company, you will experience difficulty finding qualified, appropriately experienced candidates for future job listings.
It’s important to keep in mind that word can and will spread– there are many sites where employees are free to anonymously express their experiences with an organization.
As a potential applicant is doing their research on a company before applying, they’ll be much less likely to apply if they see that your company discriminates in its hiring practices or against employees, or has a toxic company culture in general.
This means that the very best person to fill an open position, someone whose experience could lead to increased sales and profits, will simply look elsewhere to find work.
Consequences of unfair hiring practices aren’t limited to interoffice conflict and employee turnover. Now more than ever, clients and customers are looking to work with companies whose views align with their own. If your entire workforce is made up of people from a single demographic, your general work output will come from a biased perspective.
This can result in products, marketing, and deliverables that are unintentionally biased or even offensive. Considering how something will be received by a diverse audience is imperative for a successful marketing campaign or a lucrative and profitable product launch.
A popular advertisement recently featured a model of a specific race with language that was intended to promote the use of a product– but upon distribution to the public, it was met with widespread criticism due to racist wording.
The creators of the advertisement didn’t intend the ad to be racist, but the team in charge of the marketing campaign wasn’t diverse enough to provide perspectives from people of all backgrounds.
It’s also a possibility that, even if a few members of the team came from different backgrounds, they were outnumbered enough not to feel safe speaking up for fear of a negative reaction or even discrimination.
Even if a campaign isn’t overtly offensive, it can still greatly decrease the efficacy of the message you’re trying to spread.
A marketing or product development team that lacks diversity is likely to produce something that only appeals to a specific demographic. While not purposely excluding anyone, an ad campaign that contains bias or a limited perspective can have a significant negative impact on sales.
People vote with their wallets, and a product that isn’t doing well or a campaign that isn’t receiving the results that your organization anticipated might be an example of the effects of a lack of diversity in hiring.
Poor sales or alienation of audience demographics affect profits, and profits that have been negatively impacted can have serious consequences for the future of a company– putting all of your employees’ jobs at risk.
Yet another consequence of unfair internal hiring practices is the creation of company policies and guidelines that are alienating or discriminatory to specific people in the workforce.
For instance, a company whose leadership team is all-male might not properly consider things like maternity leave or allowances for pregnant employees.
They simply don’t have to personally deal with these things, and so the policies (or lack thereof) might slip through the cracks, resulting in a negative employment experience or even a discrimination lawsuit.
Why is it Important to Avoid Unfair Hiring Practices?
The most obvious answer to this question: it’s illegal. Discrimination in hiring is against the law, and dealing with a lawsuit can be very costly for your company. You should aim to avoid legal repercussions of unfair hiring practices at all costs.
Even beyond the legality of the matter, it’s morally wrong. Looking at someone of a specific race or gender and determining based on that criteria alone that they wouldn’t be good at a job is unfair and discriminatory. The laws exist for a very good reason.
Plus, unfair hiring practices that alienate employees can result in bad publicity. If the word gets out that working for your organization is unpleasant or unfair, you’ll lose potential future applicants.
Putting out marketing campaigns that are discriminatory or alienating will result in bad press; there are countless examples of advertising blunders over the years that have had major consequences for companies, even resulting in their bankruptcy or forcing them to close their doors for good.
Discriminatory and unfair hiring practices can create a hostile work environment where employees don’t feel supported or protected from discrimination. A toxic and hostile work environment is not a productive work environment.
Emphasizing the importance of diversity, acceptance, and inclusion in the workplace is a practice that has benefits at every level of your company’s operations.