How to avoid discrimination when recruiting

Over half of all professionals believe that their chances of getting a job are poorer due to discrimination.


The Hays Diversity and Inclusion 2019 report found that 52% of professionals surveyed believe they have a lower chance of being hired because of factors beyond their control, such as race or religion.


This included a huge 91% of respondents with black heritage, and 81% with Asian heritage. This is compared to only 18% with British heritage believing it had any impact.


Age discrimination is also a factor, with 83% of those aged over 55 feeling their chances of being employed were less favourable.


The law

The Equality Act 2010 states that employers cannot discriminate based on grounds of:


  • Age

  • Disability

  • Gender reassignment

  • Race

  • Religion or belief

  • Sexual orientation

  • Sex

  • Marriage

  • Civil partnership

  • Pregnancy

  • Maternity


These are called ‘protected characteristics’. Employers must adhere to this during both recruitment and throughout the course of employment.


Preventing discrimination during recruitment

To avoid a possible discrimination claim, it’s important that the questions asked during the application process do not go beyond what is reasonably required by the employer. Any questions which relate to potentially discriminatory matters should be considered carefully.


It may be advisory to accept application forms rather than CVs. This way, employers can choose to exclude protected characteristics from the information they initially receive from applicants.


Doing so means that any decision to take an applicant to the next stage is made on experience and qualifications alone rather than personal information.


Knowing that an employer uses blind recruitment in their selection process apparently gives two thirds of professionals more confidence that they will be fairly treated.


It can also help the employer avoid allegations of ‘unconsious bias’ – where they may unintentionally favour people from certain backgrounds, even if they do not intend to be overtly discriminatory.


The only time questions can be asked about an applicant’s background, such as ethnicity, marital status or religion, are for the purposes of equal opportunities monitoring. They can provide useful information for employers who have to defend a discrimination claim at a later point.


To ensure that information is not used to discriminate, many employers ask for such monitoring information on a separate page that can be detached from the application form and not be seen by the people making decisions on appointments.


If an individual reveals something at may constitute a disability, employers are under obligation to ensure that the recruitment process does not place a disabled individual at a substantial disadvantage.


When the arrangements for an interview might place a disabled candidate at a disadvantage, candidates may be asked if there are any reasonable adjustments they’d like making for the interview, such as being able to avoid navigating a flight of stairs.


Reasonable adjustments should be made to accommodate their needs and give them the same chance of success as other candidates.


Learn more

To find out more about how to avoid discrimination during recruitment, call a Deminos advisor on 020 7870 1090.

Author David Ralph

More posts by David Ralph

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