We often talk about how employees can spot discrimination and protect themselves or their coworkers. We talk about making a change by pointing out the discrimination or taking legal action. But hiring managers are also responsible for upholding ethical hiring practices, even if it goes against your company’s stated policies. If you are a hiring manager looking at a clearly discriminating hiring policy, you can make a difference, too. Whether that difference can be made from the inside or must be enacted through outside force.
People often think of hiring managers as the perpetrators of discrimination, but this often isn’t the case. Hiring managers answer to superiors and are usually given a set of policies to follow. Many hiring managers feel torn between complying with company policy and doing what they know is right. The most important thing to know here is that the law is on your side.
Why Hiring Managers Should Take Action
As a hiring manager, you are in one of the most powerful positions to quash discriminating policies and even change your company culture from the inside. When you see a hiring policy that would stop you from hiring the most qualified person based on an unfair factor, it’s in the best interest of you, the candidate, and your entire company to push for change.
You can push back on the policy to see if the structure gives in favor of change. You can quietly hire against the policy and let the results speak for themselves. And you can accept that if your company flips and fights your fair hiring practices, they are making it clear that you and they are not a good ‘cultural fit’ to begin with. Ethical hiring managers have every reason to fight back against biased hiring policies.
Changing Company Policy from the Inside
If you’re lucky, a discriminating hiring policy is nothing more than legacy from a bygone era and no one’s bothered to change it. Other managers may have already been ignoring the biased written policy and you may be free to do the same. In a best-case scenario, you can point out that these policies are illegal to HR and they will quickly change the written policies from that point onward.
In slightly rougher situations, you may hit resistance. At which point, you remind everyone that biased hiring policies are illegal. Then mention how changing these policies will reduce hiring costs and potentially increase office efficiency. Many execs will be swing by those well-made arguments alone.
Hiring Based on Your Own Ethical Policies
If you don’t get any response or are pushed to make a hiring decision based on current policies, make the ethical choice. Don’t let your company’s unethical hiring policies make you do something unethical. Hire the best person for the job, and consider being frank with your new hire about the fact that you’re pushing back.
Maybe your new hire will be a hit and policies will change as a result. Many offices base their documented changes based on results and precedent. A few non-discriminating hires that rock at their respective roles can quickly change the tune of exec and get those policies re-written to achieve your awesome hiring results.
Taking Your Employer to Court Over Hiring Discrimination
If you point out illegal policies to HR, ask for policies to be changed, and hire ethically despite policies; ideally, all would be well. But if your employer resists despite legal implications or, worse, retaliates against you for ethical hiring then it may be time to get legal.
Hiring an employment lawyer shows your employer that you mean business. If necessary, you can take them to court to expose their discriminatory hiring practices and force those policies to change. You may even keep your position to spearhead the implementation of those changes.
Hiring managers are often caught between the ‘rock-and-hard place’ of following unethical policies or defying the policies of their employer. If you are a manager in this position, we can help.
Here at Aiman-Smith and Marcy, our legal team is dedicated to stopping unethical employment practices wherever they are found. If you can’t change your company from the inside by setting a good example, we can help you change it from the outside using the force of California employment law. Contact us today to consult on your workplace hiring policies.