Are you unintentionally discriminating by using unconscious bias in your job ads and notifications? Of course not! Well the words unintentional and unconscious are key and should really have you doing a double take right now and asking “I don’t know, am I?” If experience has taught us anything it is that we often are often stressed when posting job ads and even more so when declining candidates. Why do we do this? We rush through ads and also through interviewing because we lack the resources and time to properly plan when we are short staffed. Also, we just may not have ever thought about it.
We may unconsciously say things (in writing or otherwise) that may land us in court down the road - or worse on a social media rampage. Yes negative social media commentary and reviews can be much worse than court! For example, if you have strict requirements on past experience, you may unintentionally be discriminating against women, or perhaps people of color or those with disabilities. How? Well, other companies may have already discriminated and therefore there is a very limited pool of non-white, non-female, or non-able-bodied candidates who truly have this experience that you are requiring therefore now your company is unintentionally continuing the cycle of bias. Wording such as looking for a “strong men” or “compassionate women” or even “energetic go-getters” may seem harmless however they raise the eyebrows of defense attorneys. Is it illegal? For some of those examples, yes. For others, probably not but it does depend on the situation.
In addition to bias and discrimination, your job ads must be compliant with all federal and state laws including all EEOC laws, the FLSA, and then there are special requirements for federal contractors too. Depending on the size of your company and even the location or industry, you may have additional job ad and hiring requirements. Are you consciously learning about bias in recruiting so you can help end it in your company?