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As movements like Me Too, Time’s Up, and Black Lives Matter gain momentum, is it time the recruitment industry turned a spotlight on itself? Just how bad is the issue of discrimination in UK recruitment and what can we do to counter it?

We take a look at the facts and figures and share our tip tips for getting rid of discrimination in your hiring process.

The UK: Stuck in the 1960s?

While many would argue that the industry has seen improvements in diversity and safeguarding over the past decade, the statistics beg to differ – especially when it comes to recruitment in the UK.

In a recent EU-wide survey, 38% of UK workers said they had faced discrimination – whether due to gender, age, race/nationality, or religious beliefs. As these numbers are decreasing elsewhere in the European Union, the situation in the UK is getting worse, with reports of discrimination increasing from 2018 to 2019.

Another study showed that discrimination against Black and South Asian candidates in the UK is at the same level now as it was in the late 1960s. On average, Black and South Asian candidates have to send 80% more applications than white British applicants before they receive a positive response. Despite using identical CVs, cover letters, and education histories, the experiment found that only 15% of minority ethnic applicants received a positive response in comparison to 24% of white British candidates.

Female-identifying candidates are also more likely to face discrimination based on their gender, marital status, age, and the likelihood of them having children. In fact, women are 30% less likely to be hired for a role than men with the same qualifications and experience.

So, what can we do?

As recruiters and employers, the power is in our hands to improve the situation and get rid of discrimination in recruitment for good.

Here are our top tips for employers:

  • Eliminate unconscious bias – Overt discrimination is obviously illegal but, unfortunately, not all discrimation is overt or even recognised by the perpetrator. Take steps like organising educational workshops to help your team understand unconscious bias and eliminate it from your recruitment process.
  • Overhaul job descriptions – Job descriptions can be discriminatory in themselves, even if it’s unintentional. Look at the language you use and make sure it’s not exclusive or gendered (i.e. barman, air hostess).
  • Be specific – When hiring, know exactly which skills and qualifications you’re looking for and list these in your job description. Keep detailed feedback for unsuccessful applications and ensure your reasons for rejecting a candidate are in line with the requirements you set out at the beginning of the process.
  • Know what not to ask – Where possible, ask the same questions of each interviewee, regardless of their background. It is illegal to ask anyone for personal information like their age, place of birth, religion, marital status, or parenthood plans.

And here are our top tips for recruiters:

  • Stand up to your clients – We all want to do the best possible job for our clients but that doesn’t include allowing discriminatory language and behaviour to pass unchecked. If a client asks you to submit only a certain type of candidate, uses gendered language, or displays outright bias – challenge them.
  • Stand up for your candidates – Always chase feedback on your candidates’ behalf, to ensure any unsuccessful applications are for valid reasons and not due to discrimination. And remember that equality is not the same as equity. Some candidates are more likely to be discriminated against than others so these candidates might need extra support and championing to counter bias, unconscious or otherwise.

Diverse workforces have been proven to be more innovative, creative, and productive than those limited to one range of experience. Ensuring your team includes a variety of genders, ages, and backgrounds gives your business greater versatility – as well as creating the kind of welcoming, non-exclusive environment that attracts the very best employees.

Want the best for your company? Kick discrimination out of recruitment for good.

Want more information on what we’re doing to eradicate discrimination in recruitment and how we can help you do the same? Let’s talk.