In my previous post, I looked at how to avoid discrimination when creating a job advertisement. It can be challenging to tackle the creation of job advertisements in a positive way if you are not careful. Bearing in mind that the vast majority of employers do not set out to discriminate, it is still possible to make mistakes.
I wanted to look at what discrimination is in this post. The concept is still a little woolly for many employers, and as our society becomes even more diverse there are some grey areas.
Essentially, it is against the law to treat someone less fairly than someone else because of a ‘personal characteristic’ (Protected Characteristics). This characteristic can be their gender, their race, their religion and so on. If you are treating them less favourably, and it can be attributed to your perceptions of one or more of these characteristics, you are being discriminatory.
Treating unfairly and how it looks
Heavy stuff. But simple to understand. The ‘treating unfairly’ part can mean not hiring someone because they are a woman, for example. This obviously still happens, and is a classic case of discrimination against someone due to a ‘personal characteristic’.
You could also select someone for redundancy due to his or her age. This is again discrimination. Age is a personal characteristic and should not be part of any redundancy decision.
Then we also have the example we looked at in the previous post. Recruitment needs to be handled fairly, and whether you discriminate in the wording of an advertisement or discriminate when you hire one person rather than another, it is still against the law.
As an employer, just remember that you are discriminating if you treat someone less fairly than another, due to his or her personal characteristics. This should help guide you in your thinking, and safeguard against any errors that can be made.
As always, common sense should prevail. But monitor your processes around these areas, and this should help prevent a major disaster, and some hurt feelings.