Fair WorkHow to Avoid Discrimination when Recruiting

How to Avoid Discrimination when Recruiting

Have you ever read a job advertisement that uses wording such as, ‘we are seeking someone young and dynamic’? You may think this is harmless, although this is in fact discriminatory. The wording is looking to only attract younger candidates, which implies only younger candidates will be considered. Using discriminatory language in job ads when trying to attract candidates can be risky business. Any employees in your company who are tasked with writing job advertisements and being a part of the recruitment process should be well aware of what may be deemed as discriminatory, and fully support the notion of a fair recruitment process. They must be well briefed on legal obligations around discrimination.

It’s good practice to familiarise yourself with the Workplace Discrimination section on the Fair Work Ombudsman website, which details how unlawful workplace discrimination happens. If an employer takes adverse action against a prospective employee based on certain attributes, then unlawful discrimination occurs. It’s important to know that there are instances where the Fair Work Act deems some actions not to be considered as discrimination, such as if the personal attribute is an inherent requirement of the position concerned. For example, you are looking for someone to work behind a bar, so you need the person to be over 18 years of age.

Another excellent resource to refer to is A step-by-step guide to preventing discrimination in recruitment, which has been developed by the Australian Human Rights Commission. They have also made available a simple checklist to use which includes the following steps:

1. Plan your approach to ensure you comply with your obligations to prevent discrimination in recruitment processes

2. Educate others involved in the recruitment process about their obligations

3. Cast the net as widely as possible to attract a diverse pool of candidates

4. Be consistent and fair in the way you treat candidates

5. Accommodate people who require adjustments

6. Do not seek irrelevant personal information from applicants

7. Focus on the essential requirements of the job

8. Set aside personal bias, myths and stereotypes

9. Keep records of your decisions

10. Select the person best suited to the job

There may be instances when you are recruiting for a position, and you have a picture in your mind about who you see as being an ideal candidate. Please always remember, as well as discriminatory recruitment practices being against the law, you are also limiting the range of candidates you could potentially attract. It may be one of these candidates that could be the perfect fit for your role.

Fair Work Ombudsman fairwork.gov.au
Australian Human Rights Commission humanrights.gov.au

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