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What are Fair Hiring Practices and Why are They Important

Kristin Bachman
4 min read

Whenever you hire a new employee, you want to identify the most qualified candidate for the position. But there’s much more to the hiring process. You also need to make sure that you’re hiring fairly and that your hiring practices are compliant with federal, state, and local laws.

Read on to learn about fair hiring, why it’s important, and what you can do to ensure that your organization hires fairly.

What is fair hiring?

Fair hiring is the practice of implementing diversity and inclusion measures in the workplace and ensuring that your organization isn’t discriminating against any people or groups during the hiring process.

It’s the employer’s responsibility to promote diversity in the workplace, and of course, much of this is legislated through federal, state, and local laws, and guidelines.

For most organizations, fair hiring requires a shift from using biased language and requirements to implementing neutral language and only job-relevant requirements when seeking candidates for open positions.

Why fair hiring is important

Fair hiring is important as it demonstrates corporate social responsibility to address systemic inequalities in the workplace regarding gender identity, race, sexual orientation, disability, and any other marginalized people groups.

Even beyond the ethical and legal aspects of fair hiring, creating a diverse and inclusive workforce will directly benefit your organization.

Studies suggest that diverse teams are smarter and that considering different backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences improves the decision-making process in the workplace.

Fair hiring organizations and laws to follow

In the past 60 years, multiple laws and organizations have been created to promote diversity in the workplace. It’s critical that you and key stakeholders in your organization are aware of these laws and their implications:

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a civil rights and labor law that prohibits discrimination based on sex, race, color, religion, and more. Title VII, more specifically, applies to the employment, and outlaws discrimination for any term, condition, or privilege of that employment.

Equal Pay Act of 1963

As part of John F. Kennedy’s New Frontier Program, the Equal Pay Act of 1963 addresses the wage disparity based on sex, making it illegal for employers to pay men and women different salaries for similar work.

Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 prohibits age discrimination in employment, affording equal employment opportunity to anyone who is 40 years or older in the United States.

Civil Rights Act of 1991

The Civil Rights Act of 1991 allows employees to sue their employers for discrimination. This particular U.S. labor law was passed in response to multiple Supreme Court Decisions that limited employee rights, providing the right to trial by jury for these kinds of cases and extending a woman’s right to sue for sexual harassment or discrimination.

Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008

Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) outlaws the discrimination of applicants or employees based on genetic information. Genetic information includes genetic tests, family medical history, and more.

Watch on-demand: Four leaders share insights to build diverse and inclusive  cultures

Defining fair hiring practices for your organization

Consider implementing the following fair hiring practices, which will require you to take a candid look at your organization and its greatest priorities regarding fairness:

Conduct a fair hiring audit internally

If you’re looking to improve fair hiring practices at your organization, you should start by conducting a workplace audit that helps you to identify any current shortcomings in your hiring process.

Compare your results with federal, state, and local laws, and list out each of the different fair hiring issues present at your company. Discuss these shortcomings with your key stakeholders and team members, and start a conversation about how you can promote a fairer hiring process.

Create a list of fair hiring procedures

After conducting a full audit of your business’s hiring procedures, start building out protocol and processes that address all of your organization’s hiring shortcomings, and also help prevent any future shortcomings.

Make sure you put these new hiring standards in writing and discuss them, line-by-line, with any hiring managers at your company.

Ways to ensure your organization hires fairly

As part of your hiring protocol and processes, you’ll need to identify different ways to ensure that your organization hires fairly. Consider the following tips:

Use inclusive language in job posts

Many companies unknowingly or unintentionally discriminate early on in the hiring process, using non-neutral language in their job ads. Be sure to use inclusive language and avoid examples of unconscious bias that relate to age, gender, race, or disability.

Obvious cases of this kind of language include the use of “man” or “men” rather than “person” or “people.” More subtle examples of non-neutral language include phrases like “young” and “workmanship.” Today, it’s advised that the use of “his/her” is replaced with neutral language, such as “their”, “them” and “your.”

There are also circumstances in which you could unintentionally discriminate against those who are differently abled—particularly when it comes to creating job requirements. For example, the requirement to “walk” somewhere excludes those who aren’t able to walk but are still able to get from one location to the next.

Also, be mindful that Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees and job seekers with disabilities. Your company should also craft a compelling Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) statement that is included in every job ad you post.

Establish job-related selection criteria

As you’re creating your ideal candidate profile and setting criteria for the selection process, make sure that all parameters are directly related to the job.

You can achieve this by hiring based on your company’s core values. Identify behaviors that all employees should exhibit and state them clearly in any of your job ads.

Implement and train diverse hiring panels

Promoting diversity in the workplace doesn’t start with future hires but with current employees. By building a diverse hiring panel and training those employees in fair hiring practices, you are not only making your panel inclusive but also reducing unconscious bias throughout the hiring process.

A recruiter can help you hire fairly and find top candidates

While it’s important for every business to establish fair hiring procedures, the reality is that your hiring manager might not be able to juggle their daily responsibilities while also trying to maintain a fair and legal hiring process.

By entrusting much of your hiring process to a recruiter, though, you can ensure that your company hires fairly each and every time you need to fill an open position. Professional recruiters adhere to both the established fair hiring laws and your own inclusivity practices. They are also able to advise and guide change in workforce demographics, promoting greater diversity at your company as a result.

And even beyond fair hiring, recruiting agencies possess a wealth of expertise and years of experience sourcing candidates. They will tap into job boards, career sites, social media platforms, and their own networks to create a large and diverse pool of talented candidates for you to choose from.

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