Eight Unfair and Discriminatory Hiring Practices That Go Unnoticed

The data is in - companies that make a commitment to diversity in the workplace boost their odds of creative and innovative thinking in their employees by 150%. Additionally, companies with strong ethnic and racial diversity at the management level increase the likelihood of an above-average return in their industry by 35%. 

Despite these clear advantages, many companies still struggle to build diverse teams, weakening the strength of their human capital and the odds of long-term success for their company. While creating a supportive environment to retain diverse talent is valuable, many companies fail to recognize the diversity bottleneck that is often responsible for substandard diversity levels - their hiring process.

This is often not due to malice or intentionally discriminatory practices, but rather implicit or unnoticed biases that slip into your company’s hiring process. Below we’ll identify common discriminatory practices that may be stymying your efforts to benefit from a diverse workforce.

Unfair vs Discriminatory Hiring Practices: What’s the Difference? 

Not all questionable hiring practices rise to the level of discrimination. Many are simply unfair, providing subtle advantages to certain groups of applicants that lead to unintentionally homogenous hiring trends. Let’s take a look at a few examples of unfair hiring practices.

Unfair Hiring Practice Examples

Unstructured Interviews

Unstructured interviews invite decisions based on implicit biases. When left without clear guidelines for evaluating and assessing applicants, many hiring managers resort to informal techniques and gut feel to select new employees. 

Due to human nature, this results in new hires being more likely to come from a similar background and enjoy shared experiences with the hiring manager. While this may sound appealing on the surface, only hiring applicants that “click” with hiring managers or other members of your staff will result in increased uniformity in your workplace and less diversity. A lack of structured assessment processes can also lead to a decision being made based on ultimately insignificant or irrelevant details, such as a "thank you" note from an otherwise middle-of-the-pack candidate. 

Resume-Only Hiring

While the resume is an invaluable tool for finding a suitable candidate, it should never serve as an end-all, be-all in your hiring process. Despite being tricky to manage, ensuring a performance fit is as important as securing the desired skills and qualifications in a new team member. 

And while an applicant's experience may sound dazzling on paper, an in-person interview is still valuable for determining competency.

Hiring Referrals

Hiring a new team member off of a trusted recommendation may sound tempting, but consider this before you begin onboarding; hiring within your network makes your applicant pool smaller, cutting off potential talent from different backgrounds. The applicants you are missing out on also likely have an entirely different and potentially untapped network to enhance their work and increase their value to your company.

Vague Job Descriptions

Withholding information from candidates wastes their time and yours. Be sure to include clear language describing your desired qualifications as well as the primary functions of the role and seniority level the role will grant. Candidates interested in furthering their careers are more likely to apply if they aren’t worried about accepting a lateral or lower movement compared to their previous position.

Discriminatory Hiring Practices: Bad and Illegal 

Employment laws in the United States, and most jurisdictions globally, prohibit any business from discriminating against potential applicants when hiring because of an individual’s race, color, religion, sex, age, disability, genetic information, pregnancy, parental status or national origin.

Unlike the unfair yet legal practices mentioned above, engaging in any of these discriminatory actions while hiring is not only bad practice but can also land your company in serious legal trouble. 

Examples of Discriminatory Hiring Practices

Job Adverts

Job adverts are prohibited from encouraging or discouraging candidates from applying based on any of the characteristics mentioned above. An example of illegal and discriminatory encouragement could be an advert that states, “We are seeking a 50+-year-old, Caucasian, female with strong experience…” Similarly, an advert containing illegal discouragement may mention, “Atheists and recent graduates need not apply.”

Recruiting Candidates

It is illegal to discriminate against candidates in any part of the hiring process, including recruitment. If your company tailors its recruiting efforts to avoid certain races, ethnicities, age groups or other protected categories you could face legal action. For an example of discrimination in the recruiting stage, imagine a company with an unofficial (and illegal) age cut-off policy for new hires. They may market positions exclusively on social media, with language emphasizing a “high-energy” or “cutting-edge” environment. These tactics can easily cross the line into illegal encouragement at the expense of other age groups.

Pre-Employment Screening

It is also illegal under employment law to discriminate during the screening process. A sadly common example of discriminatory screening while hiring is the exclusion of candidates based on perceived ethnicity due to the name of the applicant. This practice is so widespread that it has been proven that minorities who "whiten" their resumes get more job interviews.

To put it simply, any facet of your hiring process that encourages or discourages candidates based on immutable or protected characteristics is likely discriminatory and illegal. Companies that do not take careful consideration when building their hiring processes run the risk of winding up in serious legal trouble.

Maintaining Fair Hiring Practices, Especially When Hiring

A company that does not carefully screen its hiring process for unfairness can end up in a host of legal and moral trouble. Additionally, the growth, creativity and ability to innovate within your company will suffer as your team fails to diversify and discover new perspectives. To combat these issues, more and more companies are turning to technology to ensure equitable and open hiring processes that secure them the best candidate for each role. 

At PerceptionPredict, we use ethical data intelligence and predictive analytics to quantify and compare all the relevant aspects of candidates' profiles, specifically with sales hiring. Each candidate is assigned a Performance Fingerprint, a proprietary metric for predicting future success, length of tenure, personal motivations and company fit. 

We eliminate bias in sales hiring, while at the same time, predicting sales performance pre-hire. Book a demo now to see how we can help.

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