I was reading, as one does, a blog on the importance of diversity and inclusion. It was full of good stuff. Diversity, inclusion and equality are very much the zeitgeist of our time. They are very important, but depending on who you believe, we are all guilty of some form of discrimination. Some more than others. However…
Back in the day, when airline companies advertised for pilots who were male and cabin crew who were female, most people (you may find this hard to believe) didn’t bat an eyelid. It was as things were in those days, in much the same way that in the 16th century if the king didn’t like someone they cut their head off (they actually employed someone to do it, but the effect was the same). But some people did object to the idea that specific jobs went with specific sexes and as a result equal opportunities legislation was introduced.
Subsequently, many employers tied themselves in knots by writing “we welcome applications from…” and then listing all those groups from whom they welcomed applications. Essentially, it was an early form of virtue signalling and there were sometimes over a dozen different categories of people listed. If they tried that today, they’d be inundated with complaints from all the hundreds of minority groups they had offended by missing them off the list. However, the more savvy businesses soon realised that all they needed to do was write “an equal opportunities employer” at the end of their adverts and that covered everything.
It still does today. You may, or may not, have unconscious biases. You may, or may not, prefer one candidate over another simply because you like him or her. You may not wish to introduce someone into your team who is so obviously at odds with the prevailing ethos of your colleagues. Because, ultimately, recruitment IS about discrimination. It’s about discriminating in favour of the person you think is best qualified - in every aspect of their experience, personality, work ethic and qualifications – for the job you want them to do. So long as you genuinely strive to be an equal opportunities employer (which means not discriminating on any grounds other than the aforementioned ability to do the job and fit into the team), then you are doing the right thing. When you next need to recruit, write “we are an equal opportunities employer” on a piece of paper and pin it to your desk. Then live up to it.
Chris Peace, MD, Peace Recruitment