Small companies and start-ups often don’t have enough resources or do not allocate funds to support in-house HR. In most cases, smaller companies outsource functions like recruiting and payroll. Without having someone responsible for compliance-related HR (equal opportunity, affirmative action, employee relations, and diversity and inclusion), you risk oversight.
Protect Your Company and Your Resources
When Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, employee protections included race, religion, sex, national origin or colour became illegal and the journey toward inclusion began with the start of compliance and equal employment opportunity initiatives. A few years later, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) was added to protect employees 40 years of age and older from discrimination on the basis of age in hiring, promotion, discharge, compensation, or terms, conditions or privileges of employment. All of these protections are administered by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
In small companies and startups, the most likely HR-related mistakes occur in recruiting and hiring. If you are posting an equal opportunity statement, be sure that it includes all the protected categories. Oversights happen, as in the case of these two statements taken from small Texas-based companies.
Can you see the omission?
Both companies neglect to include age.
In the first instance, the company was notified of the mistake by an outside consultant. Not only did the company immediately add the missing language, after reviewing their website they also added images to make it more inclusive.
While the second company, only recently notified, has yet to respond, it’s just a matter of time. After all, smart leadership understands the monetary value of compliance.
Another area where language can create risk is job postings. Having someone knowledgeable in EEO, compliance and diversity and inclusion can ensure announcements don’t target specific groups at the exclusion of others. After all, the goal is to hire talent from the most diverse candidate pool.
The following chart provides examples of exclusionary language and what you can do to fix it.
Furthermore, omit requesting date of birth or year of graduation in the applicant process. And to protect against gender or age bias, do not require salary history.
Finally, when relying on AI to screen the candidate pool, make sure you are not using technology to target employees in a way that unlawfully excludes others.
Listen to the Evil HR Lady
If you don’t have a qualified internal resource to ensure job postings and web copy do not violate any State or Federal laws, retain an experienced HR professional.
Suzanne Lucas, otherwise known as the Evil HR Lady, suggests you reconsider expanding your team to include an HR pro. There are many areas related to HR that could become costly if not handled properly.
“Hopefully, the management at your company will realize that whatever money they save by not paying for an HR manager, they are losing in not having a skilled person running the people side of things,” Lucas writes. “Just one lawsuit can cripple a small business, possibly forever—far more than paying a professional to handle the HR tasks.”