Enligt en McKinsey study conducted in Latin America, employees who work at companies committed to diversity are 150% more likely to display creativity and initiative in the workspace. In fact, for many years, it’s been a well-known fact that diverse teams are more productive. How do you make sure you create a diversified workplace? One way is ensuring that your organization is free of any form of hiring discrimination.
How to define and identify hiring discrimination?
In order to spot and prevent any discriminative practices, it’s crucial to understand what discrimination is. Hiring discrimination takes place when a job candidate is treated unfavorably due to their gender, religion, age, race, sexual orientation, or disability.
Enligt Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it’s unlawful to:
(1) “ fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; or
(2) limit, segregate, or classify his employees or applicants for employment in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin”.
What are the types of discrimination in the workplace?
Källa: The Balance Careers
We can specify four main types of discrimination:
- Direct discrimination – treating a specific individual poorly because of their certain characteristics, like sex or race
- Indirect discrimination – introducing rules or policies in the workplace which put at a disadvantage individuals who display certain traits, despite the fact they are directed at all employees
- Unintentional discrimination – is based on unintentional prejudice, for example, when someone uses an offensive word to describe a person of different ethnicity or culture, without realizing they’re being insulting
- Harassment – purposely building a hostile environment for those displaying certain characteristics.
Discrimination vs harassment – how is it different?
How do we define harassment? It refers to “behavior that demeans, humiliates or embarrasses a person, and it is characteristically identified by its unlikelihood in terms of social and moral reasonableness. In the legal sense, these are behaviors that appear to be disturbing, upsetting, or threatening”.
While harassment can qualify as a form of discrimination, some differences apply. Harassment relates to bias (on the basis of sex, race, age, etc.) which manifests itself through interpersonal relations at work. Discrimination is more tangible, it’s also bias but reflected through formal employment policies and actions which make it easier to observe.
To better illustrate how these two phenomena differ, let’s take a look at a couple of examples. Imagine you’re a woman and you are invited to a business meeting that happens to be male-dominated. One of the male attendees makes an inappropriate comment regarding your outfit – this could qualify as harassment. Now, let’s assume you’re switching careers, and you want to start working as a junior developer, even though you’re an experienced accountant. You found a job ad for a junior developer but you couldn’t apply as it was limited to a specific age group – this could be regarded as discrimination. We will illustrate more discrimination cases in the next section.
Examples of discrimination in the hiring process
Now that we’ve covered how discrimination is different from harassment and reviewed its types, let’s take a look at some examples.
Discriminative job postings
Despite anti-discriminatory legislation worldwide, occasionally you can still find job descriptions that exclude certain candidates. Most commonly, you can spot ads that:
- Directly discriminating against certain candidates, i.e., the ad copy specifies which gender, race, age, or other criterion is either crucial or undesired. Below, is an example of age bias – the ad directly excludes anyone over the age of 27 from applying:
Källa: The Extracurricular Being
And here’s an example of gender bias:
Source: Twitter – Ella Gorev
Are intentionally crafted so that they discourage certain applicants. For instance, an ad targeted at anyone born after the year 2000 could be posted only on the brand’s TikTok account or include cultural references that might puzzle anyone from an older age group. The job ad could also incline that the rest of the team is ‘young’, ‘vibrant’, and ‘energetic’. Conversely, if an employer favors Baby Boomers, their ad could underline all the advantages for pensioners.
As humans, we all have personal preferences – unfortunately, it may also influence our objectiveness towards job applicants. Certain recruiters or hiring managers might display behaviors that point to a conscious or subconscious bias against a given candidate. This means they might be against an applicant for any reason but their skills or personal traits needed for the job.
One such example is the interviewer asking harder questions or giving a specific applicant a more complex recruitment task than to other candidates.
Recruitment software automation bias
As software is created by people, it won’t always be bias-free. For instance, a recruitment tool you’re using might be designed in a way that filters out candidates who’ve had an employment gap of at least 6 months. As a result, you might not receive any applications from candidates who’ve spent time on parental leave.
Targeted job ads
Online job portals and social media may lure you with tens of filters that will allow you to target very specific candidates. However, you need to be careful when defining your ideal candidate profile. In 2019, Facebook – along with 66 other companies – were accused by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission of discriminating against certain groups in their job offers. Therefore, ensure that you don’t follow in their footsteps! We discuss how in the next section.
Tips on tackling hiring discrimination
Here are a few effective ways to eradicate hiring discrimination from your company:
Tip 1:Use work sample tests
If you’re a tech recruiter, we highly recommend that you use work sample coding tests to remove unconscious bias. When a candidate applies for a job, you send them a recruitment task and can review the best assignments from the entire applicant pool. This way, you’re filtering the single best-skilled applicants, regardless of who they are. Work sample coding tests are also one of the best employee performance predictors.
REKOMMENDERAD LÄSNING: Job Interview Techniques For Employers
Tip 2: Anonymize recruitment assignment reports
Once you’ve filtered the best candidates via work sample tests, you can anonymize candidate report results before you pass on the report to the hiring manager. This way, early in the recruitment process, you’re also removing any bias from the rest of the team.
Tip 3: Watch out for the language you use
As you’ve seen in the previous section, the language you use can make your organization come across as discriminatory. Avoid age, gender, or race references, and make sure you use gender-neutral terms (for example, instead of “his/her”, use “their”).
Tip 4: Be careful with recruitment software filters
As mentioned earlier, certain recruitment software and job portals allow you to target very specific candidate groups. However, if you’re not careful with the criteria you apply, you might end up discriminating against people of a particular age, race, gender, or other important criteria. This means not only engaging in discriminatory practices but also potentially missing out on highly-skilled candidates.
If your job is office-based, it’s perfectly fine to set the location filter. However, stay wary of any filters that pertain to anything unrelated to skills and crucial personality traits.
Tip 5: Train recruiters to spot (and avoid!) hiring discrimination
Last, but not least, make sure your recruiters are trained to avoid and notice discrimination in the workplace. To make employee diversity part of your company DNA, include an anti-discrimination training or diversity training as part of your HR personnel onboarding process.
As stated in Forbes, “a diversified hiring team that has gone through diversity training understands the importance of a diverse workplace and the impact it has on [the] company’s successes”.
Tip 6: Ask the right questions in the interview
Using a list of questions allows you to structure your soft skills interview and get to know the candidate better. To stay on the same track for all candidates, consider using the same list of questions. We’ve prepared 45 beteendefrågor att använda under icke-tekniska intervjuer med utvecklare to help you out with this.
Hiring discrimination is not an abstract concept, but rather a pressing issue which must be identified and eliminated. Every respectful brand should ensure that its recruitment process is free from any discriminatory hiring practices, and no candidate is put at disadvantage due to their gender, age, race, religion, etc.
There are a number of best practices, which companies can implement to make sure that their hiring process is as objective as possible. These include anonymizing candidate data at the screening stage, using a friendly and bias-free language in recruitment ads, and training HR managers or recruiters to quickly spot and get rid of any hiring discrimination practices. Eliminating discrimination in the workplace will let you hire the best candidates based on their job suitability and not on personal preferences.