Discrimination in the workplaceStatisticsUnconscious Bias

When you do this, it means you’re discriminating

By October 25, 2020 October 26th, 2022 No Comments
discrimination prevention tips

Have you ever proudly stated that your employment decisions are always based on merit?  

You’ve declined a candidate or two because they’re ‘just not the right cultural fit’, but that’s not discriminating – is it?  Does your organisation have a conservative dress code with no visible tattoos or body piercings permitted?  Have you given highly sought after interview slots to the friends or relatives of existing employees?  Or perhaps you reviewed a CV that didn’t mention part-time work at uni or any extra-curricular activities and you rejected the candidate because there was no evidence of good time management or leadership skills in the CV?  It is easy to hide behind the concept of merit when recruiting people who are ‘just like us’. 

So before you commence recruiting for your new team member and make your decision based on merit, think about this:

Before an interview:

  • People with ‘white’ sounding names are 50% more likely to get a positive response than someone with an ‘ethnic’ name.
  • A ‘good’ address is found to triple a candidate’s chances of securing an interview.
  • What weighting does your organisation place on which high school or university the candidate attended?  In the USA, 94 of the top 100 Ivy League feeder schools were private and similar trend exists in Australia and the UK.  Are you discounting a candidate because they attended a state high school or ‘worse’ completed their schooling overseas?
  • In many Asian cultures, children are strongly discouraged by their parents to have a part-time job or get involved in extra-curricular activities as it seen to be distracting from their studies.

At the interview:

  • Were you and the other interviewers more positive about the attractive candidate?  Research shows that not only are good-looking applicants more likely to be hired, but they are likely to be hired at a higher starting salary. Attractiveness makes a difference with promotions, too.  Thanks to our unconscious bias, we tend to ascribe more positive characteristics to attractive people.
  • Conversely, being overweight does not make someone lazy or unprofessional.
  • Nearly 40% of Millennials have a tattoo.  It doesn’t make them a criminal, a bikie, in the navy or unprofessional.

Using gender inclusive language in your ads, de-identifying CVs before selection, having a balanced interview panel and using structured behavioural interview questions are some easy ways you can start to make your recruitment processes more inclusive and based on things that actually matter.

Written by Lisa Stockwell

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