Discrimination and the recruitment process

in partnership with 1 1 | Discrimination and the recruitment process
By Paula Smith | 23rd August 2021 | 3 min read

In this article, we join Jodie Hill from the multi award-winning employment law firm Thrive Law, to explore discrimination within the recruitment process.

The Equality Act 2010 protects all employees and workers from being discriminated against in the workplace. This protection extends to those applying for a job and is not yet an employee which many employers seem to be unaware of.

At Thrive Law, they are seeing a rise of discrimination claims as a result of the interview process. 

To ensure you and your company minimise the risk of any claims it’s important to ensure you don’t directly or indirectly discriminate. But how do you do this?

Internal training and support

To limit any risks, employers should ensure all staff involved in the recruitment process have had equal opportunities training and that the equal opportunities policy is available for all staff to refer to throughout the process. This should be in your staff handbook. You should also consider offering disability-specific training to all hiring managers.

Everyone involved in the process should also have unconscious bias training. Often, it’s not that someone is overtly discriminatory in the process but they unconsciously are attracted to those who are more like them or have some other bias they may not be aware of.

Make sure to check out our guide on recruitment bias for more information >>

Advertising vacancies

Your vacancy adverts are how you attract a diverse candidate pool to apply for your opportunities, so you need to ensure it is attractive and inclusive to appeal to your audiences.

Top things to do when advertising a role to ensure inclusivity:

  • Using plain English in any advertisement
  • Focus on essential skills and experience
  • Ensure that all requirements can be objectively justified by reference to the job in question
  • Look at using a gender decoder for your advert copy, to ensure the content is gender neutral

Top things to avoid:

  • Avoid unnecessary or irrelevant information
  • Limit the use of ‘industry jargon’ or complicated language
  • Utilise neutral job titles and avoid gender-specific role names, such as Headmaster or Waitress
  • Review requirements to ensure they do not directly discriminate against any groups of employees, for example, a requirement for a job to be full-time may indirectly discriminate against women who have childcare responsibilities

The application process

Ensure your application form is as easy to complete as possible. Provide clear instructions for filling out the form and make sure you ask candidates if they need any reasonable adjustments to attend an interview or during the application process to ensure they can access these. The list of reasonable adjustments is nonexhaustive, and adjustments should be made for any disability to ensure an entirely inclusive and fair process for all.

You should also consider the following to ensure your recruitment process is accommodating for a neurodivergent candidate:

  • Offering more time during assessments
  • Providing interview questions in advance
  • Adapting interview questions so that they cover specific examples rather than complex concepts
  • Swapping the traditional interview for extended interviews or a work trial 
  • Making sure the interview environment takes account of any sensory needs
  • Acknowledging the use of assistive technology for an interview 
  • Consider a trial period rather than an interview
  • Allow a coach to support

The importance of equal opportunities and diversity in recruitment is clear; it’s not just about ensuring you avoid claims, but also ensuing you are an accessible employer and are genuinely getting the best candidates for the role; you don’t want to be losing amazing potential employees, just because your process is not inclusive enough.

Check out our full guide on delivering a discrimination-free recruitment process >>

For more information on the legal aspects of discrimination in recruitment, including policy creation and the development of your HR handbook, make sure to speak to Jodie Hill from Thrive Law, and if you are looking for support with intuitive technology to deliver more inclusive recruitment check out IRIS networx.