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How can you make sure that you’re treating each job candidate fairly?

Equality and Equity in the Hiring Process is Essential for Ethical Decision Making

In this blog post, Nick Stokes, a guest blogger, is going to be looking at some strategies for creating a fair recruitment system within your company, from top to bottom.

With the world of business becoming increasingly complex and scrutinized, it has never been more important to ensure that companies are treating and ranking job candidates fairly. After all, making a bad hiring decision could have serious long-term consequences for your business. Not only will you have wasted time and resources on an unsuccessful hire, but there can be potential legal implications if unbiased processes aren’t upheld throughout the recruitment process.

But how exactly can you make sure that all applicants are treated fairly, and what does it mean to establish an equitable process?

What does it mean to treat candidates fairly?

Treating job candidates fairly is a responsibility employers should take seriously. It's about creating an equitable, respectful environment for everyone who applies for the same position. This means consistently evaluating applicants on the same criteria and ensuring that each person has an equal opportunity to showcase their strengths in their applications, credentials, and interviews.

Making sure every candidate receives timely responses from the employer is another key component of treating job candidates fairly. Initiating conversations with candidates promptly, providing thorough feedback throughout the process, and maintaining polite communication at all stages helps to ensure fairness in any hiring process. When employers make a conscious effort to treat all job seekers fairly, it creates a company culture that emphasizes respect and integrity for all.

Hiring in the digital age: is it ethical to check a candidate’s online profile?

While social media screening has become a common practice in professional recruitment, there are some question marks around how ethical it is to do. Most importantly, scanning online profiles could increase the opportunity fort discriminatory biases to affect the hiring decision. What candidates post on social networking sites could reveal details about themselves that cannot be inferred from their CV, including race, sexual orientation, and religion. If any of this information leads to an applicant being unsuccessful in the process, the company exposes themselves to potential lawsuits.

Supporters of this practice would argue that compliant social media screening is not only ethical, but an essential part of the modern recruitment process. Providing it’s performed in the right way, checking social media profiles could help protect against a negligent hire. If the candidate has shared violent images, hate speech or toxic language – all of which would never be found on a professional application – companies may feel that the individual could pose a potential threat to the integrity and reputation of the business.

While it’s not illegal to access this information, it’s crucial that businesses use it in an ethical way. Ultimately, it widens the scope of hiring staff to allow unconscious biases to seep into the process, which could have serious legal ramifications if this is found to play a part in accepting or rejecting any given candidate.

Three ways to treat candidates fairly

1.   Train hiring staff about overcoming unconscious bias Hiring

Teaching staff about unconscious bias can be a great way to help establish a more ethical hiring, and ultimately help to create an atmosphere of equity and inclusion within the company. It’s imperative that hiring decisions are made based solely on the qualifications, experience and skills of the prospective employee, rather than influenced by protected characteristics. This is why being aware of unconscious biases is integral to establishing a more ethical hiring process.

To teach hiring staff about unconscious bias, begin with a discussion on the different types of bias that exist and how they often lead to stereotypes and poor decisions. Invite everyone to share examples of how unconscious bias has an effect in hiring processes. Also provide reading and research materials for further exploration so that everyone gets a deeper understanding of the topic.

Finally, hold regular meetings where you can openly talk about any biases that may arise during decision time and offer alternatives when needed. Achieving a workplace free of unconscious bias requires commitment from all involved parties; however, with the right tools, this goal is achievable.

2.   Establish a diverse hiring panel

Educating members of staff about unconscious bias is one of the best ways to keep it from impacting decisions during the hiring process. But an equally important way of nullifying it is by assembling a diverse hiring team.

Having a diverse team of employees on the panel will provide lots of advantages to your hiring process, and ultimately to the wider company. It will help to give you a more well-rounded view of candidates, with different members of the team perhaps able to pick out the different qualities they were able to show.

Meanwhile, for the candidates themselves, a lack of diversity on the hiring team can impart the wrong message about the company and could potentially demonstrate that your values aren’t aligned. Having access to a range of different team members can also help to provide the applicant with different perspectives on the company, giving them a clearer understanding of the internal culture. Ultimately, diversity within hiring teams helps to provide a better experience for both the company and the prospective employee.

3.   Make reasonable adjustments to the process

Reasonable adjustments should be considered throughout the entire process, from posting the advert to interviewing and onboarding. This ensures that every prospective employee has an equal opportunity to succeed and helps hiring managers to focus on the most important aspects of a candidate’s skill set.

It’s important to note that positive discrimination is illegal, apart from when making an exception for a disability or an occupational requirement. So, making reasonable adjustments/accommodations for candidates with disabilities is allowed and encouraged, to help provide them with a fairer chance to succeed.

When it comes to interviewing, make it clear to your applicants that they are obliged to make you aware of any adjustments that should be made to the process. This could include asking for wheelchair access, requesting more time for a test during the interview, or asking for the interview questions in advance. Employers are now legally required to provide reasonable accommodations for disabled employees, so applicants should never be made to feel uncomfortable when requesting them.

On the part of the hiring team, it’s important to keep questions direct and to the point. It can be useful to make candidates aware of the questions beforehand, as this can help them to showcase the best of themselves. Lots of candidates benefit from leaning on established techniques to answer interview questions. As such, many will find it difficult to deal with an unexpected line of questioning or perhaps vague questions that are difficult to understand. To ensure you keep a level playing field, keep the conversation focused and avoid too many open-ended questions.

Take responsibility for your hiring process

Ensuring that fairness pervades every stage of the recruitment process doesn’t just help to give your company a competitive advantage – it is a legal requirement. Being aware of the best ways to establish a fairer process is the first step to implementing it. Afterwards, it’s important that any hiring staff are trained about these different aspects, and you will start to open your company up to a wider range of opportunities in the ever-changing world of business.

Author bio: Nick Stokes

Nick is a digital marketing consultant who has gained over 20 years of experience in the field. He specializes in web development and has helped to create content for international brands.

Blog by Nick Stokes posted by Steven Mintz, PhD, aka The Ethics Sage, on February 23, 2023. You can sign up for Steve’s newsletter and learn more about his activities at: https://www.stevenmintzethics.com/. Follow him on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/StevenMintzEthics and on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/ethicssage.