You are hiring people for their skills and experience…

It is important to ensure you deliver a discrimination free recruitment process, treating all people fairly within the selection of your employees. As an employer, you should be recruiting based on criteria relating to your job vacancies such as skills, experience and knowledge, not on personal factors.

Protected characteristics

Protected characteristics are aspects of a person’s identity that make them who they are including age, gender, disability and others. Rejecting any candidate based on the following characteristics is discrimination and should be avoided.

Sadly, discrimination is a very real issue, but we have collated a selection of tips you should follow to ensure that you are avoiding discrimination during your recruitment process.

1. Make sure your advert appeals to everyone

It sounds simple, but how you position your advert can have a specific impact on the gender, age, ethnicity or religious beliefs of the candidates who choose to apply. The aim is to try and create an advert that not only looks good, but also sells the role and your business to the widest possible audience whilst ensuring you don’t stop people from applying.

Whilst the use of gender specific job titles such as headmaster, air stewardess, waitress and handyman have long since been eliminated and replaced with gender neutral alternatives, recruiters still need to delve a little deeper in order to ensure that an advert appeals to the majority rather than a minority.

For example, the tone of voice and the language you use in your adverts can not only encourage a certain demographic to apply for your roles, but actually proactively prevent others from doing so.

Try using an online gender decoder such as to understand if the wording you use in your adverts is gender neutral and always think about the images you use on your advert. Do they suggest you are an inclusive employer?

2. Ensure everyone can apply with ease

As many companies focus their attention on delivering the best candidate experience and supporting the increase in candidates applying using mobile devices, the introduction of gimmicks and new technology can actually make it much more difficult for some job seekers to apply.

Accessibility throughout your entire application process is key, but you also need to give consideration to the level of support and guidance you offer to candidates in terms of how to apply, what you are looking for and how their application will be assessed. Providing access to key documents such as person specifications, role descriptions and guidance notes can help encourage applications from a more diverse talent pool.

3. Anonymisation supports a much fairer and unbiased selection process

Automatic removal of any personal and sensitive information ensures that applications can not be sifted or filtered in anyway through unconscious bias. When even a candidate’s name allows people to form an idea of gender and sometimes even ethnicity, it’s important that all those who take part in the selection process only have access to the information they need and nothing more.

Applicant scoring and panel based selection methods are becoming increasingly popular to remove individual influences when it comes to selecting the right candidate for your business, so candidates are selected purely based on their ability to do the role.

Technology undoubtedly plays a key role in supporting this stage of the process.

4. Interviews need to be conducted in a controlled manner

Whether you choose to interview candidates by telephone, video or face to face it’s important that you provide every candidate with the same opportunity to sell themselves.

A series of structured interview questions and set time frames can help support this. Not only will this allow you to control the conversation more easily, but ensure that your questions do not imply that you could discriminate against a candidate based on certain characteristics such as age, disability, marital status, race , religion or sex.

It’s also beneficial where possible, that interviews should be attended or reviewed by multiple interviewers so when it comes to making your final decisions, this will be based on a consensus of opinions rather than that of just one person. Your team should be trained so they are aware of equality and discrimination laws to further protect both parties.

After you have conducted the interviews and other selection stages, you must choose who you are going to hire to fill your job vacancy. This decision must be made solely on the ability of the candidates to perform your role, without taking into consideration any protected characteristics. Compare each applicant’s skills, experience and ability to the criteria you originally set out when writing the job description and adverts.

5. Record your decisions and access information quickly

You should always keep a record of your interview notes and your decisions about who to hire together with your reasons for doing so.

Not only can these help to support interview training in the future, but clear and well explained reasons as to why a candidate was successful or unsuccessful can also dramatically reduce the time it takes to provide feedback should a candidate request it.

It’s also good to have clear documentation should a candidate request a Subject Access Request. A candidate has the right to see ALL information you hold about them, and that includes any hand scribbled notes you took during the interview!

Making your equal opportunities monitoring form an integral part of your application process will also ensure that you can easily assess the diversity of your applicants in line with those who are recruited.

Delivering a discrimination free recruitment process can often prove challenging especially if it requires an organisation to make significant changes to the way they recruit. It is essential that you do not discriminate against any candidates during recruitment processes and subsequent employment. By following these tips, you should be able to conduct a fair recruitment process avoiding discrimination which treats everyone equally and the only judgement made towards candidates is based upon their skills and ability.

Get in touch with networx for further support in delivering a discrimination free recruitment process.

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