In difficult to recruit for positions, personnel diversification can be a challenge for many employers. Understanding and improving upon existing recruitment practices will be a key success factor in achieving your diversification goals.
For those employers who use a current word-of-mouth recruiting practice, it is important to take into consideration “several cases have noted that a word-of-mouth method of recruiting applicants through existing employees can have a disparate impact on minorities when the work force is predominantly white.” (Shoben, 1986) However, a word-of-mouth recruitment effort (although it may cause a disparate impact) on its own merits is not a violation of Title VII, as long as the employer can show no intention of excluding hiring of any particular group of candidates protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (CRA). In order to determine violations to Title VII, recruiting efforts should be reviewed along with selection processes to determine any disparate impact in violation of the CRA.
Employers should also be aware that candidate examinations can also present an obstacle in diversifying the workplace. In considering an employers examination policy, it is important to remember that statistically, minorities tend to score lower on cognitive ability tests than non-minorities. “Most HRM experts now generally take the view that these differences are not created by the tests, but are most related to inferior educational experiences” (Bernardin, 2010) which can be a direct result of an individual’s cultural and/or ethnic background. In an attempt to address diversification of their workforces, some government employers have used a “banding procedure that groups test scores based on data indicating that the bands of scores are not significantly different from one another. However, research has shown that banding procedures have a big effect on adverse impact only when minority preference within a band is used for selection.” (Bernardin, 2010) This approach remains very controversial and may be illegal.
Although entrance exams do pose a value to many employers in predicting (albeit very limitedly) a candidate’s ability to perform well on the job, an employer would fare better in avoiding cognitive ability tests and instead, use a performance-based test which would result in less adverse impact on minority groups. An example of a performance-based test would be a sensory ability test, which focuses on measuring hearing and sight acuity, reaction time, and motor skills such as hand and eye coordination. These tests have a direct correlation to the standards of performance set by an employer for its employees.
Every employer is different and in the case of some public employers (i.e. police and fire departments) there will be certain selection processes that will cause a disparate impact upon protected worker groups, such as physical ability tests and the greater adverse impact it has on women, however; the selection process in question may be allowed (even if it does not meet the EEOC’s four-fifth’s rule) as long as the department can show how the selection process directly reflects job relatedness. In order for a job relatedness defense to hold up in court, the department must conduct a “thorough work analysis to justify personnel job specifications such as passing scores on tests.” (Bernardin, 2010) Also, the EEOC has issued specific methods to employers in the Uniform Guidelines in Employee Selection Procedures to be followed in order to support the job relatedness of a test that results in adverse impact.
Workforce Diversification Recruiting Initiatives –
While employee referrals are a great source of talent for an organization, an employers word-of-mouth recruiting initiative may not be able to encompass the overall diversification standards being sought by the employer. To meet an employers specific diversity goal, special focus should be placed on expanding current recruiting processes as opposed to doing away with them. Minority outreach initiatives can be coupled together with word-of-mouth recruiting efforts to build a more diverse pool of candidates.
In order to be able to raise awareness among the minority communities in which an employer operates in or is trying to recruit from, a more concerted effort should be made to market the employer at minority functions around the city, advertise within minority magazines and publications, and increase outreach efforts at minority colleges and universities within the local geographic region (i.e. Hood College in Frederick, MD is historically a women’s college). Organizations who have staff members focused on recruiting have found increased success rates when the recruiters mirrored the demographic they were trying to recruit from.
Recruitment efforts of minorities should remain a priority given the recurring benefits of relationships developed with the communities a business serves, those established relationships will, in most cases, offset the budgetary increases that an employer is likely to see when implementing a diversification model. Lastly, while diversification of the current population is important, diversity training for the current employee population will also be needed in order to maintain the benefits of a diversification program in the long term.
Bernardin, H. J. (2010). Human Resource Management An Experiential Approach (5th Edition ed.). New York, NY, USA: McGraw Hill Companies, Inc.
Shoben, E. W. (1986, January 1). Employee Recruitment by Design or Default: Uncertainty Under Title VII. Retrieved June 27, 2014, from Scholarly Works: http://scholars.law.unlv.edu/facpub/578 “Title VII claims based upon “disparate impact” should be distinguished from claims of “unequal treatment,” which is also called “disparate treatment.” The similarity in the names of these dissimilar theories of recovery under Title VII is the unfortunate result of haphazard nomenclature. Neither of these terms is defined by, nor even appears in, the Act itself. “Disparate treatment” has been used to mean an employer’s unequal policy or practice which differentiates between two groups solely on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. A disparate treatment claim requires proof of the employer’s discriminatory motive, although sometimes motive can be inferred from the facts showing inequality in treatment. On the other hand, “disparate impact” refers to discriminatory results of neutral practices regardless of the employer’s motive. The phrases “disparate impact,” “adverse impact,” and “disproportionate exclusion” are used interchangeably. See International Bhd. of Teamsters v. United States, 431 U.S. 324, 335 n.15 (1977); Griggs v. Duke Power Co., 401 U.S. 424 (1971). See also Wright v. National Archives and Records Serv., 609 F.2d 702 (4th Cir. 1979).” (Shoben, 1986)  “EEOC v. American Nat’l Bank, 652 F.2d 1176 (4th Cir. 1981), cert. denied,459 U.S. 923 (1982); Taylor v. Safeway Stores, Inc., 524 F.2d 263, 271-72 (10th Cir. 1975); Gresham v. Chambers, 501 F.2d 687 (2d Cir. 1974); United States v. Georgia Power Co., 474 F.2d 906, 925-26 (5th Cir. 1973); Parham v. Southwestern Bell Tel. Co., 433 F.2d 421,427 (8th Cir. 1970). But cf. Wilkens v. University of Houston, 654 F.2d 388, 399-400 (5th Cir. 1981) (word-of-mouth recruiting not as harmful to women for academic job as it was for blue collar black workers in Georgia Power).” (Shoben, 1986)  See Griggs v. Duke Power Co., 401 U.S. 424 (1971) and Albemarle Paper Co. v. Moody, 422 U.S. 405 (1975)  Minority Recruitment: Identifying ways to enhance diversity in the Delray Beach Fire-Rescue Department by Victor B. Williams pg. 60