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The Alternative Board Blog

How Ethical Is Your Hiring Process?

Mar. 26, 2024 | Posted by The Alternative Board

So you’re a business owner and you are pretty confident that your hiring process is both sound and ethical. After all, organizations today are bound by numerous laws and regulations that help ensure fairness throughout the talent acquisition process and help prevent discrimination in the workplace. But do those rules go far enough in guaranteeing a fair and ethical playing field? The short answer is, probably not. 

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces a wide range of federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination based on factors like race, color, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability, and others. While most businesses strive to comply with hiring regulations, many don’t feel compelled to elevate their talent acquisition system beyond what is mandated. Ethics in hiring is more than just following the rules. It also means treating job candidates with the respect they deserve and implementing a process that reflects positively on your business as a whole.

How Are Businesses Missing the Ethical Hiring Mark?

The art of talent acquisition has evolved dramatically over the last 20 years. Businesses are increasingly challenged with growing talent shortages, skills gaps, and an often-unenthusiastic workforce. On the other hand, job candidates are feeling pressure due to an evolving labor market rife with mass layoffs and changes in remote work options. In short, there is often an underlying oppositional dynamic between employers and job seekers that positions neither very well for success.   

While the talent pool arguably shares part of the onus in this scenario, it is incumbent upon businesses and owners to ensure that their hiring process doesn’t just meet regulatory compliance, but is also inviting, transparent, and respectful enough to attract top talent. Which, let’s be honest, isn’t always so easy.

So what might be ethically tripping up your business in your hiring process and why is it so wrong? The following are some challenges in ethics and fairness that fall beyond regulatory compliance:

Ethical Hiring Mistake 1: Inaccurate or Vague Job Postings

Every business wants to make their open positions sound as attractive to their target candidate as possible. But including unrealistic pay ranges or omitting key compensation structures within a job description is off-putting and leaves candidates with more questions than answers. It is unethical to lure talent with promises of wage potential and career trajectories that just aren’t realistic. 

Be as specific and forthcoming as possible in your job postings.

Ethical Hiring Mistake 2: Lack of Communication

One of the top frustrations cited by job applicants is the lack of communication related to their candidacy – even more so by those who have been through multiple interviews and are left waiting weeks or even months for a final decision. Poor transparency and communication alienates top talent, is disrespectful, and devalues your business from a potential employee’s perspective. To them, your lack of candor is a turnoff and a harbinger of an equally frustrating work environment – and you will likely lose out on your top candidates.

It is ethical to be forthcoming with your job candidates on where they stand in the hiring process. Don’t leave them guessing. Communicate even with unqualified job seekers or those applying for positions you have already filled. Thank them for their interest in your company and urge them to consider future opportunities within your organization when appropriate.

Ethical Hiring Mistake 3: Misrepresenting Your Company Culture

Labeling your employees as a “work-hard, play-hard collaborative team” is fine, as long as it is actually true. Idealizing your company culture and work environment might attract top talent, but it can also dramatically increase employee turnover once they discover the picture you painted doesn’t match their experience. 

It is unethical to oversell your company culture as something it is not. Be honest in the way you describe your culture in job postings and throughout the hiring process. Ask current employees for their perspectives on their work environment and what they like about their jobs, then leverage that information to attract the employees who best align with your unique culture.

As the employment market continues to be unpredictable, it is essential that your hiring process is imbued with high ethical standards and thus positions your business for the best talent acquisition outcomes possible. 

Read our 19 Reasons You Need a Business Owner Advisory Board


Written by The Alternative Board

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