When recruiting new employees you want to hire the best person for the job, that goes without saying. As well as having a recruiting process that help you attract and select the top candidates, you also need to ensure fair hiring practices that are legal and consistent with local and labor laws.
Being legally compliant doesn’t just protect employees, it protects you too. It reduces employee churn and increases employee retention because the grass won’t seem greener to them elsewhere. Not to mention discrimination can be a costly mistake to make not just in monetary terms, but your reputation will take a hard knock too.
But keeping your hiring practices legal and above board shouldn’t be the only motivator for you to maintain fair hiring. You should do it because it is the right thing to do to level the playing field for all your applicants, giving everybody a fair chance regardless of their background, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, age, disability, and so on.
1. Write inclusive job ads
We can, unknowingly, allow gender-coded language to seep into job ads. And intentionally or not, this gender-biased job description can then turn certain candidates off.
Ensure fair hiring practices at your organization by using inclusive language in your job ads and by avoiding subtle bias. Use tools like Gender Decoder to help you write inclusive job ads. In your job ad, make sure to include your EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity) statement.
If you aren’t sure what unconscious bias/gender-coded language in job descriptions looks like, here are a few examples:
- • Use the title ‘person’ instead of ‘man’, i.e. salesperson rather than salesman.
- • Instead of referring to your team as ‘the guys’, call them ‘folks’ or ‘people’ or simply, ‘the team’ to keep it gender-neutral.
- • Switch out ‘maternity’ for ‘parenthood’ – raising children isn’t the responsibility of just women.
• Be aware of words with masculine and feminine connotations. For example, words like strong, drive, or analytical are more associated with males while support, share, or understand with females. Look for neutral alternatives to include in your job posts.
2. Communicate your policy
One way to ensure that you have a fair hiring process is to communicate your policy to candidates upfront, so that they can hold you accountable.
Your EEO policy should go beyond just the statement in your job ad. Communicate to your candidates what your selection process is like, what tools you’re using, and how you’re overcoming bias in hiring and in the workplace.
3. Implement blind hiring practices
Do you really need women only in your HR department? Should your developers and coders just be male? Of course not, but these are biases that can be perpetuated because it’s ‘what’s always been done’.
By implementing principles of blind hiring you can ensure fair hiring practices are carried out and that the best people are hired for the roles you need filling.
Blind hiring reduces bias by allowing interviewers and those responsible for making hiring decisions to put aside any preconceptions and keep their minds open to all hiring possibilities.
Blind hiring practices can include:
- Hiding demographic information when reviewing CVs.
- Hiding applicants’ names when evaluating work assignments.
- Avoiding social media pre-screening (using it later in your recruitment process).
4. Establish clear selection criteria
When creating selection criteria for what the ideal candidate should be like, all the criteria must be job-related. And one of the simplest ways to start determining these criteria and ensure fair hiring practice is by recruiting based on values.
First figure out what core values your company has, and use them to guide you in your decision making. Translate these values into desired behaviors. I.e. if one of your core company values is integrity, determine what behaviors an employee with clear integrity displays. Write these behaviors into the job ad.
5. Focus on assessing the relevant skills and competencies
If you want to ensure fair hiring practice, assess all candidates for relevant job-related skills and competencies, rather than simply relying on their CV and your gut feeling.
For example, through cognitive ability assessments, situational judgement tests (SJTs), or personality questionnaires. These should always measure the skills, behaviors and competencies that are your actual selection criteria.
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6. Assemble diverse hiring panels
How do you ensure you have a diverse workplace? By following fair hiring practices, another one of which is assembling a diverse hiring panel. If ‘like attracts like’, then put diverse employees on the hiring panels and let them inspire the next generation of diverse employees to come work for you.
Implementing a diverse hiring panel will allow you to cast your net wider, systematically reducing unconscious bias in the hiring process.
7. Standardize your interviews
Invest in creating structured interview processes for your organization including standardizing your interview practice and questions.
If you want to eliminate bias from your hiring process, don’t allow interviewers to go off-script. One way to avoid putting yourself in a precarious or potentially discriminatory position is to have a pre-prepared set of questions that interviewers are required to ask of each candidate. Nothing more, nothing less.
Don’t allow anyone involved in interviewing candidates to deviate from this interview structure or the list of preapproved questions. It needs to be standard for all candidates who are applying for the same role.
Standardizing interviews and creating predetermined questions beforehand, and giving all candidates the exact amount of time to demonstrate or communicate their specific skill set and experience, is the best way to ensure fair hiring practices at your company.