Accusations of bias and discrimination in the hiring process can create serious problems for businesses of any size. Litigation is costly, and reputational damage can repel talent and investors.
There’s no foolproof way to prevent these incidents from occurring, but you can use business forms to ensure significant protection against allegations, preventing many of them before they have a chance to occur.
Equal Opportunity Forms
You can begin to take steps during the recruitment process. By including a monitoring form with job applications, you suggest to potential hires that you care about diversity and equality. A monitoring form typically asks about:
- Marriage Status
- Pregnancy and Maternity
- Race and/or Ethnicity
- Sexual Orientation
However, with each question, you must include an option not to answer, as it’s against the law to require anyone to fill out these forms. What you can do is include a paragraph that explains why you’re conducting the monitoring and outlines the benefits of having a diverse business. You should also stress that any information collected will remain strictly confidential at all times.
Protect yourself further by keeping detailed records when hiring an employee that include the pros and cons of each applicant, and why you made your final selection. Keep these records on file with other hiring forms and monitoring forms for each employee. This way, if there’s a later dispute, you have written evidence protecting you from accusations of discrimination or bias.
Just as you’d ask a new hire to fill out a monitoring form, you can also complete the process with existing employees. This gives you an opportunity to learn exactly how diverse your company is. Then, you can adjust how you advertise for jobs. Certain avenues may only attract a certain race or gender, for instance.
Also, take a look at who tends to be promoted, who gets trained for which jobs, and leaves the organization. This information will tell you if there are certain problem areas that you need to work on in your business recruitment and ongoing policies.
Do not Enact Policy that’s Inherently Discriminatory
Take a close look at your office policies. Certain rules and regulations may not appear obviously discriminatory, but do make work like more difficult for certain groups.
For example, certain rules regarding appearance and clothing may not be appropriate for women. Likewise, banning all forms of headwear can be accidentally discriminatory toward faiths that require headwear. Be honest with yourself, and modify any rules that could create problems down the line.
One of the most troubling forms of discrimination is gender-based. Allegations of discrimination can swiftly turn into allegations of harassment. A business can reduce exposure to liability by providing all staff with a thoughtful sexual harassment policy which:
- States that there will be zero-tolerance for violations.
- Details all actions and communication that might be construed as creating a hostile work environment.
- Creates a clear procedure for complaints.
- Assures employees that they will be treated fairly and respectfully should they have cause to make allegations.
- Outlines all actions that will be taken against violators.
Equal opportunity forms are becoming standard practice for most businesses. To really prevent any accusations of bias or discrimination, however, you need to consider existing problem areas in your business first. Then, you can use your forms to address those concerns directly.
Be specific about your non-discrimination policy, and make sure and emphasize your business’s commitment to diversity. Then, make sure that your business policies match those commitments. You can’t guarantee that all your employees will be totally satisfied, but at least you’ll have written evidence proving that you are aiming for a safe work environment.