Solicitors Comment: Avoiding Discrimination in the Recruitment Process

Discrimination. Equal Opportunities. Rights. Words we hear often in the world of HR, but what is the legal stance on these issues? At Gordon Dean Solicitors Great Yarmouth we think that often, it may seem that it has gone too far, but generally these are simply myths, the law is quite clear on the issue and it has been placed there to ensure that recruitment, and employment law in general is fair for both the employer and the employee.

An article in HR magazine reported that although employers today are looking for a more diverse workforce a report by the APPG (All Party Parliamentary Group) looking at Race and Community found that in particular black and ethnic minority women are faced with discrimination “at every state of recruitment” from employers. The survey was released almost at the same time as Max Kpakio, a refugee from West Africa, reported that he will be taking his case to the employment tribunal, accusing Virgin Atlantic of racial discrimination after his application was rejected when he used his real name but accepted under a pseudonym ‘Craig Owen’.

Unfortunately, as solicitors we see these cases when they have become serious and accusations are being made and, frustrating as it is, a system in place during HR processes can make for a smooth and discrimination free workplace.

So how can you adapt your recruitment process to ensure you’re giving equal opportunities to all?

Before beginning the recruitment process

Job description: Before the recruitment process gets under way the most important document to carefully consider is the job description. This document is the first piece of data a candidate will look at, it forms the basis of the recruitment process and the candidate will scrutinise it before deciding to apply. It needs to include a list of any required duties along with a person specification which covers skills, experience and qualifications.

Job Advert: Similarly to the job description, your job advert needs to give a clear impression of what the job entails allowing potential candidates to understand whether the job is right for them or not saving you time and money.


If you’ve done the planning of the recruitment process properly you should now have in your possession a good selection of application forms. This is where you need to start to short-list while ensuring that there is no discrimination taking place. Discrimination can be related to: race, gender, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, religion or being pregnant and it is against the law to give one person a better opportunity than another because of any of the factors detailed here. For this reason, and to make sure everything is by the book, blocking out any personal information and solely looking at the candidate’s skills, qualifications and experiences allows you to look at each as complete equals.

The interview process

In general, those that make the short-list will be invited to an interview. The interview panel should plan out the questions that they are going to ask, and if any information will be given to candidates during the interview. These questions should be focussed towards establishing whether they have the right skills and experiences to do the job properly and should not be personal. By planning questions properly there is a reduced risk of anything being considered to be discriminatory and using the same questions and scoring sheet gives every candidate the chance to shine. The scoring sheet can also be used to decide which candidate will be successful.

It may seem like a minefield but correct planning vastly reduces the likelihood of discrimination in the recruitment process but avoiding a lengthy tribunal and a trip to the solicitors’ offices has got to be worthwhile!

Bio: This article was written by Katherine Ogilvie on behalf of Gordon Dean Solicitors Great Yarmouth who specialise in Employment Law and more.

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