Job Descriptions – Are You Avoiding Discrimination?

Posted 4 years ago •

Discrimination is the act of treating a person unfairly because of who they are or because they possess certain characteristics. The Equality Act 2010 protects people from discrimination, harassment and victimisation. It highlights nine protective characteristics:

Age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation.

Recently you would have seen the recent controversy around Spotlight UK, an actor’s agency requesting a female to star in a Christmas ad for chocolatier Milka, specifying that “eye colour and hair colour are not important but no red hair”. The agency offered an apology, removing the advert that was posted by a casting director on behalf of a client and not written by a member of staff. This can be seen as indirect race discrimination.

As a business, it is crucial to ensure you are maintaining full inclusivity in the candidate journey from the beginning right through to the end. The initial action is the job advertisement, it needs to be specific with skills required with the job and you need to remain objective when selecting them to ensure it is accessible to all. Within the skills, you need to break down what skills are essential, and which are desirable.

It is against the law to discriminate – a result of which will carry hefty fines and your all-important brand image can be negatively impacted. Your language must not be seen as restrictive, for example being careful of gender-specific terms. Your advertisement needs to focus solely on the skills that are required for the job. Only mention certain characteristics if necessary.  There is software available on the market that will check advertisements for unconscious bias and make suitable alternative recommendations – a worthwhile investment.

When it comes to selecting candidates to interview you can only select candidates on a basis of the skills you require and set within the job description. It’s important to diversify your talent pool of candidates to ensure you are getting a wide range of candidates.  Monitoring your candidate response will identify areas of shortfall and targeted interventions can be put in place to address these.

You cannot allow personal bias or stereotypes affect your decision. We can all be biased in different ways even if we don’t realise. When interviewing you must ensure that objective evaluations are made and, wherever possible, it’s useful to have a diverse interview panel who can contribute to a decision and ensure all perspectives are taken on board.

When offering the job, make sure the process you follow in deciding who should get it is without discrimination. You need to consider the persons' skills and abilities compared to the job description.

It’s always a good idea to keep a record of your employment decisions as these can be useful where feedback is requested and in the unfortunate event of a claim, information can be disclosed.

Let’s face it, no-one likes keeping management information but an accurate record of your demographic worker profile at each stage of your recruitment process will demonstrate your recruitment achievements and highlight any areas that require future focus.

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