Search

How can we help?

Icon

Applicant X – avoiding bias and discrimination in recruitment

Most UK employers are well aware that the law protects job applicants from unlawful discrimination and bias – for example because of their sex, race or age. The majority of businesses have no intention of treating anyone unfairly and yet we continue to see stark imbalances within workforces. Why is this?

Attention has shifted in recent years from cases of outright prejudice, or what employment lawyers would call ‘direct discrimination’, to more subtle forms of bias that can influence a recruiter’s decision-making.

It’s now widely recognised that businesses and educational establishments have a part to play in reducing inequality by tackling forms of conscious and unconscious bias.

Last year professional services firm Deloitte announced they were looking to target the issue of social mobility by removing the name of an applicant’s school and university before interview. The aim – to help ensure that job offers are made on the basis of present potential, not past personal circumstance.

Over the next year a much wider-ranging trial will take place in universities, which should give a much better indication of the extent to which unconscious bias influences recruitment. With the support of the government, Exeter, Huddersfield, Liverpool and Winchester universities have volunteered to carry out “name-blind” admissions designed to counteract assumptions that may be made about a candidate’s race, gender or religion based on their name.

Monica Atwal

Managing Partner

View profile

+44 118 960 4605

The majority of businesses have no intention of treating anyone unfairly and yet we continue to see stark imbalances within workforces. Why is this?

The outcome of the trial will be of interest to anyone involved in recruitment and selection, and it could even lead to legislative changes. In the meantime, employers may want to ‘equality test’ their own recruitment practices and procedures by withholding information that could lead to bias and discrimination. We regularly provide advice and training to business clients on these issues and we know from experience that it’s worth putting the work up front to avoid potentially damaging and costly discrimination claims from job applicants.

For further information or support with avoiding bias and discrimination in recruitment, please feel free to contact our specialist employment law team.

About this article

Disclaimer

This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.

Monica Atwal

Managing Partner

View profile

+44 118 960 4605

About this article

Read, listen and watch our latest insights

art
  • 22 February 2024
  • Employment

Time to take the heat off menopausal women

On 22 February 2024, the EHRC released guidance and resources for employers designed to help employers understand their legal obligations in relation to supporting workers experiencing menopausal symptoms.

Pub
  • 22 February 2024
  • Employment

Talking Employment Law: What to do if you’re at risk of redundancy

In this podcast, Harry Berryman and Rebecca Dowle, members of the employment team, will talk through the steps that need to be taken for a redundancy to be fair and the range of criteria that can be used when determining which employees will be made redundant.

art
  • 21 February 2024
  • Immigration

FAQs Partner Visa UK

Discover the UK Spouse Visa: eligibility, finances, relationship criteria, and the latest updates in 2024 for a successful application.

art
  • 19 February 2024
  • Privacy and Data Protection

The role of Data Protection Officers in ensuring compliance

How many of us receive marketing calls for products and services we did not sign up for?

art
  • 12 February 2024
  • Employment

The World of Work in 2024- What Can HR Expect?

In many senses, 2024 is unlikely to be a year with radical ruptures from those that have gone before it. The significance of 2024 though, is that it is likely to build upon those megatrends impacting the world of work, which have been emerging for some time now and are only likely to strengthen as we move on in time.

art
  • 09 February 2024
  • Privacy and Data Protection

Are we suffering from cookie fatigue?

An over-indulgence in Easter treats might not be the only cookie fatigue that individuals will suffer this year according to the Information Commissioners Office (ICO).