What makes our world so exciting and incredible is the vast number of people from all walks of life who create a diverse, creative, innovative society. For businesses, both established and newly formed, embracing diversity allows a stimulating array of ideas, viewpoints, and cultural differences to blend and mix in one place. The result? Outstanding products and services which benefit everyone.
However, embracing diversity in the workplace isn’t only beneficial for the enterprise in question. It is also stated in both federal and state law that discrimination in any way, either during the hiring process or their experience in the role, is illegal. There are a number of legislation which protects American workers from discrimination and promotes diversity in all shapes and sizes.
When it comes to the hiring process for your small business, you naturally want to employ the best talent for the role, yet you need to be aware of promoting equality and inclusivity within your company. How do you fairly review candidates for your positions while ensuring you are open and welcoming to potential employees from all walks of life? As a business owner, you need to recognize and understand exactly what diversity is, the legislation surrounding it, the challenges and how to recruit in a fair way.
What Defines Diversity?
Title VII of The Civil Rights Act of 1964 defines diversity by race, color, religion, national origin, and sex. However, as the global economy has expanded, and workplaces have grown, the diversity definition has understandably shifted to match. Now, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines diversity as:
- Age (most importantly, those over the age of 40)
- Disability, both physical and mental health conditions
- National origin
- Veteran status
Diversity in the workplace in the 21st-century is no longer a desirable business trait. It’s a necessity. There is an increasing focus on this particular aspect of workplace culture, one which businesses need to embrace fully to stay on the right side of the law. Whether you are starting your business, or expanding through company acquisition, you cannot ignore diversity.
Exploring Diversity Legislation
In the U.S., the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces the federal laws and legislation which refers directly to diversity and discrimination. The laws specify the aspects which are illegal within the workplace, protecting employees across the country from unfair dismissal, discrimination in the workplace, and discrimination in the recruitment process.
Interestingly, however, is the fact that certain pieces of federal law also protect employees from retaliation – where it’s illegal for an employer or colleague to retaliate after a complaint, a charge being filed, an investigation or lawsuit.
Specific legislation includes:
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: It is illegal to discriminate against someone due to their race, religion, sex, national origin or color. Employers must reasonably accommodate applicants and employees sincerely held religious practices unless doing so would impact the operation of the business. Additionally, The Pregnancy Discrimination Act was added to Title VIII to make it illegal to discriminate women due to pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth, such as morning sickness.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA): Protecting people over the age of 40, employers cannot discriminate because of the age of the applicant or employee.
The Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA): It is illegal to pay men and women different wages if they perform equal work in the same workplace. It’s an incredibly hot topic in today’s society, with April 10th dedicated to this very issue. This is the day which women must work into the new year to ensure they earn the same as their male counterparts made at the end of the previous year. However, this wage gap is far more extensive for women of color.
Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990: Employers cannot discriminate against a candidate with a disability, which includes (but is not limited to) mental health conditions, physical limitations, learning disabilities, and deaf and hearing impairments. Employers must also reasonably accommodate the physical limitations or mental health condition unless it will impact the operation of the business.
Recruiting Diverse Employees
Recruiting diversity candidates can feel like an uphill challenge. After all, many small business owners focus on specific platforms or job sites to post their advertisements, which means they might not be accessing a wide pool of talent available. Businesses can find that their workplace includes a high number of employees from a particular background, culture, or nationality through no fault of their own. It’s simply because candidates from diverse backgrounds did not find the job listing. However, diverse employees bring a host of skills, knowledge, and understanding which enhances a business. They may understand how to apply for a small business loan or guide your company through financing a business acquisition in their nation of origin far better than another employee who has worked for your company for many years. So, how can small business owners ensure they are attracting talent from a wealth of qualified candidates?
The answer lies in a number of distinct aspects:
- The language used on job postings
- Where you post the job advert
- Your application process
- Your website
The language used: While you may believe you’ve created a job advert which clearly states the role, the requirements, and the expectations, are you aware of the language may imply you want a candidate from a specific background? By using a glossary online, you can discover the words or phrases which call to those from diverse backgrounds.
Your job posting: If your recruitment process involves one or two particular platforms, you may be unintentionally missing out on attracting different talent. Harnessing the power of social media platforms to advertise your role means you can reach a higher number of candidates. What’s more, recruitment fairs allow you to meet potential employees face-to-face before they apply or arrive at the office for an interview. This way, you are exposing both your company and yourself to a higher proportion of people. For newly-qualified college students, recruitment fairs are an exciting way to network and find a role which genuinely suits them and their skills. When you present your business and positions here, the talent you may find is limitless.
The application process: How accessible in your application process? Is it easy to navigate for someone whose first language is not English? Does it take into account any learning difficulties, Dyslexia, applicants with sight impairments? By simplifying and transforming the application process, you create one which is inclusive for all candidates. Changing the application process, however, may require investment into a new website. A cash advance may be appropriate to help fund this, as commercial loans can be used for a wide variety of processes within your organization.
Diversity is essential for all walks of life, but small businesses, in particular, can benefit greatly from embracing diverse talent. It doesn’t matter how large or small your enterprise is; diversity affects all companies equally, so treating every candidate and employee equally is crucial.
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