This podcast was recorded on 22nd Dec 2021, at the time of the recording, all the job adverts discussed in this podcast were live, with closing dates set in the future. All job adverts were picked from jobs.ac.uk.
Podcast available at: https://anchor.fm/talkinghe/episodes/TalkingHE—Episode-14—Dr-Teeroumanee-Nadan—Discrimination-in-Recruitment-e1clspi/a-a773mv3
Post edit: Not all examples were covered in the podcast. If you actively want to make impactful change, I would highly recommend reading through the post below 🔻.
In preparation for the recording, I randomly picked 6 live adverts from jobs.ac.uk, all from the first results page. All adverts
- were sectorial, with job titles Learning Technologist or Eduational Technologist or E-learning Technologist and one was a vacancy for a department which health with Wellbeing.
- were advertised by a UK HE institution
- were for vacancies within UK
I will highlight below some of the wordings in the advert blurb that may lead to discrimination.
Whilst the failure stems mainly from the stakeholders involved in the recruitment chain, there is also failure from the Diversity & Equality act, mainly due to the common law legal system in place in the UK.
Example 1 – Work evenings and/or weekends
These sorts of wordings lead to several issues.
- People who have intensive caring responsibilities, be careful here, I am not just talking of parents here, as there are various types of caring responsibilities, so technically these people would be put off from applying from these roles. The hiring manager ends up with a team of members who do not have intensive caring responsibilities, and hence they do not fully comprehend the challenges of people in real life. Any subsequent hiring of someone with caring responsibilities will be critical and may lead to bullying.
- We are today talking of racism, but there is another issue which is much older than race, and that’s gender equity. Even till now, in the UK, women take more responsibilities. There may still be a few men with evening caring responsibilities who have applied, but it less likely that many women with evening caring responsibilities would apply. This is by the way not just a sectorial issue
- One subsequent issue that may arise, which is not part of the recruitment process, is when planning work and doing work allocation. It is likely that staff with caring responsibilties have to take off one evening and cannot complete their work, there are emergencies and real life situations in everyones’ lives. In the long run, what may happen while planning work, is that staff who are not carers end up getting most of the evening work allocations, which is a big issue especially among junior staff.
- Putting all this in a racism context, certain ethnic families in the UK still exist as extended families, yes there are more hands to help, but there are also more to do. So if you consider a minority ethnic woman living in such a family, with caring responsibilities, it is unlikely you will not get her to even read this advert further.
- Obviously, we are just looking at the advert here, needless to say that there will be unconcious bias at the shortlisting stages and interview stages, and so on.
Example 2 – A first degree
All ethnicity groups are less likely to get a first class degree compared to White students. The largest difference is seen between White and Black graduates – Black graduates are 12% less likely to gain a first class degree….Only 25% of Black graduates earn above £25,000 compared to 38% of Asian graduates and 30% of White graduates.Graduate outcomes
- We already have a huge disparity between white and POC students, whether it is school dropouts, school grades, going for higher education, university dropouts and obviously completing with a first degree. Black graduates are 12% less likely to gain a first-class degree [Ref: Graduate outcomes in London]. Now, these are just figures around black graduates, they do not look cover other ethnicities. This is an advert within HE and it is alarming how they thought that learning stopped when the graduate does their last exam/coursework.
- Only 25% of Black graduates earn above £25,000 compared to 38% of Asian graduates and 30% of White graduates [Ref: Graduate outcomes in London]. The job blurb analysed has a mean salarly of £40K. Since only candidates satisfying the criteria should apply, it is most likely that this particular institution uses an automatic Applicant Tracking System, and HR staff have set the Candidate Differentiation Questions to filter out anyone who does not hold a first degree. That is a large proportion of Person of Colour (POC) graduates and professionals who will be automatically screened out and not be able to attain a higher salary scale within UK HE.
Example 3 – Close application early
Here we can identify various categories of people who would not be able to apply for the job, there are people who are busy with caring responsibilities, or have multiple jobs to meet ends, and even people with disabilities who can only fill in applications with the support of another person or assistive technologies – these people are not having a fair chance to even apply. I am not going to assume what will happen if they do get recruited in such a university, because clearly there is a lack of consideration for the challenges that real people have. This is, by the way, an example showing:
- HR does not want to sieve through too many eligible applications. Usually, once the Applicant Tracking System has filtered applications based on the Candidate Differentiation Questions, HR have to anonymise the eligible applications to be sent out to the hiring panel for shortlisting. This is usually a time-consuming task and is not usually automated. What often happens, is that, private information is filtered out, but if applicants add URLS to projects – particularly for higher posts and academic posts – these are not filtered out and sent to the hiring panels as such.
- HR and Hiring Manager simply wants to just appoint, they are not interested in the best candidate, they are just interested in the candidate they want – which is then most likely going to be the mini-me recruitment. Although, this urge to immediately appoint often stems from Hiring Managers, I mention HR here, as HR has the responsibility of highlighting procedures and best practices to the hiring panel.
Example 4 – Friendly/well disposed
We do not need to even go deep into this – just one statement is enough “black males are 19 times more likely to be stopped and searched”. That is 19 times, not 19% more, we are talking of 100% versus 1900%. This needs to be spelled out because some people still think that we are talking about 100% v/s 119%. NO. And this is a figure that is not showing much decline. Friendliness is about personal perceptions.
This text also has wordings like “fast-paced environment”, which is not conducive to applicants with disabilities, for instance, some people will need assistive technologies such as screen magnifiers, screen readers, captioning, and so on, to be able to do a particular task. The term ‘fast-paced’ here, discriminates against these applicants and seems to have been written by an able-bodied. Whilst, you cannot legally argue with these terms being used in job adverts, they highlight issues that may crop up later on, such as biases at subsequent stages of recruitment and/or bullying once someone with a disability has secured the job.
Example 5 – Working to tight deadlines
This is similar to Example 1, where the most obvious issue here is for applicants who have caring responsibilities. I am personally completely against the use of ‘tight’ deadlines in HE, unless it is a department like let’s say security, nursing, whereby security staff has to respond quickly to an intruder coming in and as we saw in this pandemic nursing students and staff are collaborating with hospitals and care centres. If somebody is still using tight deadlines, it shows a lack of planning and insufficient resources and that is what they need to address, otherwise, they will simply have a toxic work environment.
This post only highlights some of the discriminatory wordings in the 6 job blurbs analysed for the podcast. Stay tuned to my blogs on recruitment.
For other TalkingHE podcasts by Santanu Vasant, please visit 🔻
1 thought on “Equity analysis of 6 job blurbs – a podcast for TalkingHE”
Thank you for the highly informative podcast and blog post. I shared the examples with my team; they changed how we view our job adverts and will be used to inform better practice. I look forward to future posts.