Recruitment comes in different ways depending on the employer’s approach. There are those who rely on in-house human resources personnel and there are those who employ a recruitment agent to compile a list of applicants and help choose the best candidates. It is important to ensure the use of words and phrases does not implicate any form of discrimination. Even your job application in the career site should not be overlooked if you want to avoid any repercussions due to racial discrimination. Below we list down examples of terminology in job advertisements that might relate to discriminatory effect and how to word it appropriately.
Direct and indirect discrimination
There are two types of discrimination that can be seen in job ads that you need to avoid. Direct discrimination is where a job advert makes its statement clear that the employer is looking for people of a specific age, gender, race. Indirect discrimination is where job adverts mention criteria that would make it impossible for an individual of a specific age, gender, race to apply for the position unless there is a justifiable or genuine reason to excel in that role.
Avoiding age discrimination
Age discrimination can affect young and old job seekers. There are employers that did not realise how age-related biases are influencing their hiring decisions. The only exception is the specific position that requires a certain age to work which is stated by law such as “Applicants must be 18 years old or older.” Examples of age discrimination include:
- recent college graduate
- young and energetic
- athletic or athletically inclined
- no more than “X” years of experience
- junior or senior, except as part of a job title
- great opportunity for student
- mature individuals wanted
Consider posting the salary up front as there will be a greater assurance to find interested job seekers who are willing to work for that amount. Ensure recruitment staff are trained to shortlist candidates on the basis of objective criteria relating to skills rather than the candidate’s age.
Avoiding racial discrimination
Job advertisements should not indicate a preference for a person’s particular race or colour, regardless of the company would like to establish a racial diversity. Once again, it is all in the terminology. It is fine to put up a job advert looking for a Mandarin-speaking Sales Support. However, if your job advert states you are looking for a Chinese Sales Support or a native speaker of Chinese, this is wrong and unacceptable.
Avoiding disability discrimination
Jobs that require physical involvement tend to discriminate against individuals with disabilities even if they are capable of performing the task albeit not in a similar manner. Unless it’s a genuine occupational requirement, a proper justification is necessary or adjusting the requirement to make it acceptable. Adding terms such as “active or energetic” is considered as discriminatory as well. Also avoid terms such as visually inspect but instead replaced with, this position requires inspection of sites to detect safety concerns.
Key tips for employers
- Review any job descriptions or photographs you want to add into the job adverts to ensure they do not signify that only specific candidates will be considered for the position. Only use neutral images, such as if you are looking to employ a software engineer choose a picture of a group of male and female instead of choosing a single gender.
- Add a prominent equal opportunity statement to ensure that your application is open to anyone that possess the qualifications and experience.
- If a job requirement clearly states the reason in the advertisement. For instance, your job advert is about an acting or modelling role that requires female gender only. This position would be limited to women only as it is a relevant part of the job and won’t be seen as discriminatory.
- Avoid requiring candidates to have specific physical features unless it is a necessity to fulfil the job that is proportionate to accomplish a genuine aim.
- Avoid including age requirement unless it can be objectively justified. Describe what is the required competencies or experience for the role. Emphasise towards “graduate” or “entry level” instead of “young,” “mature,” “recent graduate” or “junior.”
- Avoid including religious requirements only if there is a legitimate occupational requirement and can be objectively justified.
- Don’t include job titles that specify a job can be conducted by men or women only. For example use job titles such as “flight attendant” rather than “stewardess.”
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You Jing is a content writer who writes career and lifestyle contents to inspire job seekers and employers alike on their journey to work-life balance, empowerment and transformation in their career path.
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