Skip to content

Whether deliberately or unconsciously, it’s sadly true that many job seekers experience discrimination in some form based on factors such as age, gender and race. The notion that the most qualified and suitable candidate will be hired for the job unfortunately doesn’t always play out in reality. So how can organisations work to be more egalitarian and help to reduce barriers to employment?

Open Hiring

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that “open hiring was pioneered by Greyston, a New York bakery founded in 1982 by Buddhist Zen master Bernie Glassman, which employs anyone, including former prisoners, on a first-come-first-serve basis.” The essential principle of open hiring is in line with the Buddhist belief in non-judgment, so people are not discriminated against due to their background

This year, The Body Shop in Australia has implemented this method of hiring for the first time. The company is aiming to be more inclusive and diverse to help those that may have faced barriers to employment such as single parents, the homeless and Indigenous Australians. This practice aligns with their “purpose to fight for a fairer and more beautiful world.” 

Rather than deciding which applicants to interview after looking over resumes, the open hiring policy means that The Body Shop selects the first candidate to apply for an in-person chat. During the chat, the candidates are informed of open positions, company history, and roles and responsibilities. From there, interested candidates will be asked three simple questions to confirm they’re eligible and physically able to fulfil the role:

– Are you legally authorised to work in Australia?

– Can you lift up to 11kgs and work an eight-hour shift in one day?

– Are you happy to work with customers? (not a disqualifier)

Their mission is to focus on a person’s potential rather than their history. The Body Shop in the US has already implemented open hiring strategies and found the results were positive and that it has helped reduce monthly staff turnover.

Open hiring is a powerful way of implementing a discrimination free hiring process. Employees benefit because they don’t experience the typical barriers to employment, and it can also be an effective option for ethically minded companies who are looking to reduce high turnover. However, this hiring measure would not be advantageous for all jobs, especially those that require high skill sets. So what can be done to reduce barriers to employment in these types of positions?

Decreasing Unconscious Bias

Numerous studies have indicated that the traditional hiring process is biased and unfair. Unconscious racism, sexism and ageism all effect who gets hired. What are some of the steps organisations can take to mitigate this?

1.Blind resume reviews. This is a great incentive to remove bias when evaluating applicants. There are software programs that can do this for you or it can be done a hiring manager. Essentially you evaluate candidates based on their qualifications and experience, but you don’t see details such as their name, location and age.

2. Ask candidates to do a skills test. Once you’ve found a shortlist of candidates that you wish to interview, ask them to solve work-related problems and/or complete a skill test first. This allows you evaluate prospective employees based on the calibre of their work. It also forces employers to compare and critique applicants based on the quality of their work rather than unconsciously judging them based on other metrics, such as appearance and age.

3. Establish a standard interview format. Research indicates that unstructured interviews are less reliable at predicting job success because the priority of the interview – to work out a candidate’s skills and experience – can get sidelined by other irrelevant discussions. When employers standardise interview questions and ask each candidate the same questions, this helps to reduce bias and means candidates can be evaluated more fairly. 

4. Set diversity goals. Establishing the intent of your company to embrace diversity and inclusion is step one. After the hiring process it’s a good idea to evaluate how well you’ve done. Of course, on occasion you won’t have had a very diverse pool of applicants to hire from, but a company that continually checks in with their diversity goals are ensuring its ongoing importance in the hiring process.