Discrimination in recruitment – A cardinal sin

Discrimination in recruitment is major malaise in many organizations. Despite a slew or legislation banning it, discrimination in recruitment is a fact of life. It is something that happens at a very subtle layer, and is very difficult to establish and prove. This makes prosecution for discrimination in recruitment all the more difficult.

What is termed as discrimination?

In the broadest sense, any recruitment that puts unreasonable and unrelated filters on the parameters for selection is said to be discriminatory. It is understandable if the organization’s management decides that only people with some years of experience may apply. But if it requires the candidate to have passed a particular examination from only a particular educational board, it effectively puts out other candidates who may be just as good, but may not have passed that particular board exam at a disadvantage.

This is an indirect form of discrimination in recruitment, because passing only from a particular board could be possible only in some countries or some educational streams. This kind of filter qualifies for discrimination in recruitment, because the employer is indirectly asking only for particular candidates.

What is the way out?

Discrimination in recruitment is illegal.  No employer can discriminate against someone simply out of prejudice. Most nations have legislations that make it illegal for an employer to practice discrimination against someone belonging to a particular race, gender, sexual orientation or religion.

If an organization has to show that it is free of discrimination in recruitment; it should take some active steps. It can think of:

  • Setting out the recruitment policy in writing and implementing it
  • Keeping the same selection criteria such as qualification uniform throughout the recruitment process and not change it for candidates belonging to different groups
  • Keeping the recruitment policy transparent and open for all employees and governmental agencies to access
  • Training HR staff and other employees about discrimination in recruitment.

An experiment

Sending out an anonymous CV is one of the steps some employment seekers have tried. Many organizations have ways of determining the race or color or religion of a person by the name. Some candidates have sent out more employer-related names at times to neutralize this factor, and have often met with considerable success. This works fine with organizations that are known to practice discrimination in recruitment, but could also lead to potential difficulties if there are laws that prohibit candidates from applying in aliases.

References:

http://bookboon.com/blog/2012/09/avoid-discrimination-when-recruiting/

http://www.admin.ox.ac.uk/personnel/recruit/background/equality/avoid/

http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/work-blog/2013/apr/11/can-anonymous-cvs-help-beat-job-discrimination

 

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