Is Your Hiring Process Accidentally Discriminatory?
by Angie Rupp
Diversity is a tricky subject. And, one that likely makes you as an HR professional uncomfortable (even if it that discomfort resides beneath the surface) because there are some pretty profound risks associated with getting it wrong (and some pretty amazing rewards when you get it right). Regardless of your opinions surrounding the matter though, recruiting and maintaining a diverse workforce has a significant impact on how your success is measured at your organization. Additionally, assuming you don’t have a full-time staff attorney, your company likely relies on you for all things “hiring compliance” which is a heavy burden to carry if you aren’t as well-versed in diversity hiring practices as you’d like to be. Furthermore, most HR professionals are so focused on the onboarding process itself to lessen the potential for discrimination that they overlook a key component to drawing in a diverse applicant pool – the job ad. In this post we’ll address common recruiting errors that could lead to accidental discrimination against protected classes and suggest small changes that make a big impact to diversity conscious hiring.
Here’s What Not to Do: Create job ads that include a long list of “preferred” expectations that are not necessary or relevant for success in that position.
Do NOT create ads that include a long list of “preferred” expectations.
This common mistake is likely one of the biggest contributors to scaring away potential killer candidates that are either females or minorities; both of which have different perceptions than their white predominantly male counterparts about how to interpret “Master’s Degree preferred” listed smack dab in the middle of your qualifications list. If you’ve read Tara Mohr’s article regarding women’s approach to the job market, then this suggestion won’t come as a shock to you. In a nutshell, women will not apply for a position that they aren’t 100% qualified for whereas males feel confident in applying for positions in which they possess 60% of the skills listed in the job ad.
Your initial reaction to this information may be that you would prefer not to have applicants applying for your position if they aren’t 100% qualified because that simply creates more work for you fueling the diversity disconnect you are inadvertently creating for yourself. But take a second to really process this information. Essentially what you’re doing is creating a gap between the amount of men and women that apply for your positions by adding superfluous qualifications that are not relevant for success in that position. You’ll continue to attract men to your positions (even if they’re only 60% qualified), but you’re also driving women away from applying that could check 100% of your boxes until they see the “Masters Preferred” or “Sharepoint experience a plus.”
A good question to ask yourself when you’re weighing your qualification list includes: is this something that I can train someone to do or do I have evidence that an employee who possesses a Master’s degree is more productive in this position than an applicant that only has a Bachelor’s? Taking the time to really examine your job ads will not only help you eliminate unintentional discrimination, it will also help you cast a wider net to attract candidates that would be a good fit for your position.
Challenge your current process & embrace change.
This confidence disparity and somewhat skewed perception of self-worth isn’t limited to women. Minorities also face similar challenges in securing job openings, so it’s safe to assume that their confidence levels are impacted as well. These messages are usually reinforced by deeply engrained societal themes that oftentimes we’re completely unaware that we possess. It’s not that we set out to discriminate, it’s just that we’ve spent many years entrenched in limiting belief systems regarding women and minorities.
The way I see it, you have two options here relative to your diversity landscape: continue to hire the same way you’ve been hiring without taking the time to reflect on whether or not your efforts are hindering your diversity numbers, or challenge your current processes and embrace change that will lead to a better future for everyone: minorities and your organization included.
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