6 tips to reduce discrimination when hiring

In 2014, a study on employee charge trends within U.S based companies found that U.S. businesses have an 11.7 percent chance of having an employment charge filed against them.

Unfortunately these findings may not be surprising to many because discrimination in the workplace is not a new topic. In this article, we’ll discuss 6 tips to reduce discrimination in the hiring process and explain why utilising these fairer hiring methods will promote diversity, an integral part of creating a culture of innovation.

Hiring discrimination is on the rise

While an 11.7 percent chance of having a lawsuit filed against a company may not seem like a big risk, some states such as New Mexico face a 66 percent chance of being sued, which is a pretty high rate if you ask me.

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Discrimination against employees is seen in many different forms including

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All of these different factors contributing to employee discrimination make it extremely easy for lawsuits to be filed against businesses, which is why all corporations should take precautions to avoid any bias in the recruitment and selection process. In order to reduce discrimination in the workplace, it is vital for employers to prevent any unfair advantages/disadvantages in the beginning stages of building a company — the hiring process.

Here are 6 tips to avoid discrimination when hiring

  1. Use a script for interviews

While this first tip may seem like a no-brainer, it is extremely important to stick to a consistent script while interviewing, to ensure that each candidate is judged fairly.

Having a consistent set of technical questions for each individual function within the business will ensure that each candidate is properly being assessed based on their skills, education, and capabilities compared to the other competing candidates.

A script also leaves less room for interviewers to bring in their own personal comments and questions that may lead to interviewing the candidate in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable.

2. Avoid asking questions regarding personal/sensitive topics

It’s important to avoid asking questions that a candidate may regard to be personal, sensitive or inappropriate topics. These topics include: ethnicity, place of birth, religion, marital status, children, gender, sexuality, disability etc.

However, if questions involving these topics do feel appropriate, in small talk for example, it is important that they are structured in a way that does not cause the interviewee to feel offended or inappropriately judged. Whilst it’s not illegal to ask these questions, it is unfair to base a decision upon an answer to them.

There are many do’s and dont’s in asking questions regarding a candidate’s personal information which can lead to either the interviewer gaining more useful knowledge about the candidate, or having the candidate feel uncomfortable and improperly assessed.

3. Use the blind CV policy

The blind CV policy was established in 2015 to reduce any bias or discrimination that may occur during the interview process. The policy ensures candidates that employers are assessing them purely on their CVs, because all of the personal information about that candidate that may lead to a discriminatory bias has been hidden.

The blind CV policy has many benefits when it comes to preventing any discrimination from the hiring process. These benefits include:

  • Candidates feeling more confident in submitting their application to a specific company.
  • The organisation is less likely to face discrimination claims.
  • A more positive reputation.

4. Rooney rule

The Rooney rule was originated as a National Football League policy in 2003, which required every NFL teams to interview at least one minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operation jobs.

Prior to the Rooney rule, there were only seven head coaches of color. Since the Rooney rule was implemented, 17 NFL teams have recruited either an African-American or Latino head coach or general manager, and three teams have more than one head coach of color according to a report written by Mike Freeman. This progress in decreasing discrimination within the NFL would not have been so easily done without implementation of this policy.

The Rooney rule can be applied to more than just sport leagues. If this method of recruiting candidates is enforced in all businesses, then more minorities will be given an opportunity for placement within their desired workplace.

For example, there is a lack of female software engineers within the IT sector. According to The Statistics on Women Engineering only nine percent of the engineering workforce is female, (the UK has the lowest percentage out of all of Europe with less than ten percent). The percentage of women studying engineering and physics has remained static since 2012, however, the number of women entering the field has not increased.

By implementing the Rooney rule into the IT sector, this policy will ensure that for every x amount of candidates selected for interviews, y amount of them must be women. Therefore, more women will be given a chance to be interviewed, leading to a possible increase in positions filled by women within this field.

5. Have a panel of interviewers

Having a panel of interviewers has its advantages when avoiding discrimination in the hiring process. One of the main advantages is that it allows for more input, therefore, one person is not the sole decider in choosing which candidate they think is best for the position.

However, having a panel of interviewers does not always eliminate bias in the hiring process. In fact, sometimes having a panel of interviewers can still lead to one person influencing the opinion of others, especially if that person has a lot of authority. ‘Groupthink’ is often a result of this occurrence, and can be just as ineffective in eliminating hiring bias as having a single interviewer make the decision.

Many of today’s companies have cultural fit interviews, where candidates are assessed on how they would fit in with the wider team. While great in theory, in practice, poorly carried out cultural fit interviews can create a clique-based environment where everyone gravitates towards homogenous groups so be careful.

6. Capture some objective data

In order to avoiding groupthink or any other clique-driving behavior in the hiring process, it is advisable to also capture objective data when recruiting. Objective data such as measuring candidates for team fit or standard psychometric data helps to minimise the risk of discrimination by providing a different view on a candidate’s suitability that’s independent of any one assessor.

Companies that use a tool to capture data objectively using online software often report less bias, more diversity and better team performance.

Following these tips will not only help to eliminate discrimination from your company’s hiring process, but it will also lead to more diversity, inclusivity, and a better fit for your company’s culture as well.