Another BBC diversity row: white paper says key to diversity is fair testing, not ethnic recruitment

October 5, 2016 Aon's Assessment Solutions

HR news

Diversity and the problems created by positive discrimination at the BBC have again been thrown into the spotlight after Jon Holmes, a BBC presenter, claimed that he was sacked for being a white man. Rather than positively discriminating to recruit a diverse workforce, which creates headlines and bad press, the onus should be on recruiters to implement measures that are fair and which focus on someone’s ability to do the job, say international talent measurement and assessment specialist cut-e.

The group has published a new white paper which shows how to conduct fair testing that doesn’t disadvantage potential applicants or discriminate against any group.

Called Encouraging diversity through fairness in assessment, the new paper provides advice and guidance on how to avoid bias and adverse impact in recruitment. Written by Dr Katharina Lochner and Dr Achim Preuss of cut-e, it details five factors of fair testing – accuracy, equality, accessibility, practicality and reversibility (re-scoring) – and explains how these can help employers to recruit a more diverse workforce.

“Diversity and inclusion can enhance innovation, adaptability and performance in organisations, by providing a greater variety of viewpoints, but if your selection process is unfair, you’ll only recruit the same, homogeneous group,” said Dr Preuss. “This paper explains how to create a recruitment process that’s fair and objective.”

The authors highlight that employers are not allowed to apply any requirement or condition that disadvantages any candidate or makes them ineligible for a job, without good reason. Valid and justifiable assessments should be used which measure job-related selection criteria that is relevant to the requirements of the role.

“By using only criteria which impacts on job performance, fair testing will help you to identify the best candidates for your roles and it will bring equality and inclusion into your recruitment process,” said Dr Preuss.

“Testing should simply help you to sift out applicants who fall below a certain threshold and who therefore do not fit your selection criteria. All those who meet your minimum requirements should stay in your selection process.”

The paper recommends that hiring managers should be trained in equal opportunities, diversity, employment law, interview skills and avoiding unconscious bias. Recruiters should apply the ‘four-fifths rule’ which states that the success rate for members of any particular group – such as males, females or ethnic groups – should not be less than 80 percent of any other group’s success rate. Documented evidence should also be kept at each stage of the recruitment process, in case a legal challenge arises.

“It’s important for HR teams ensure that interviewers and assessors are not simply recruiting people from similar backgrounds, or with similar experiences, to themselves,” said Dr Preuss. “With fair processes in place, you can not only recruit without bias and adverse impact, you can improve the performance of your organisation and enhance your employer brand.”

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