“You can’t ask that question!”…..

karen talbot News

…Why this is missing the point!

Mr Hallligan, by his response to the current controversy regarding his discriminatory question at interview, is demonstrating a fundamental lack of understanding of the issues.  It’s not that we are ‘not allowed ask that question’, it’s that discrimination is unlawful!

Mr Halligan not meaning any harm is no defence whatsoever.  The fact is, he brought factors into the decision-making process that should not be brought into that process.  Also, his stereotypical view of the requirements of women, linked with childcare, is very worrying indeed.  We’re nice to mammys – we facilitate them looking after their children?  If an employer has work-life balance initiatives, great! but they should not be discriminatory either! Many people do not realise that it is also unlawful to discriminate against men, people without children, unmarried women, the list goes on! What about asking someone his age and attempting to justify it by saying that you only wanted to let them know that you provide zimmer frames!!

Many people think that this whole area is a minefield! It is not, it is really simple!

In advance of advertising a position, an employer should give careful consideration to the skills, experience and qualities required for the job.  All stages of the selection process should be based on objective criteria, without considering any of the characteristics attached to the nine grounds (as per the Employment Equality Acts).  In fact, we strongly advocate going much further than that.  We strongly recommend investing time and effort, before advertising a job, in clearly thinking out the business requirements and what selection methods (interview, testing, etc.) are most appropriate and effective.  This encourages and facilitates a solid, objective selection process, based on the business needs and not on overt or more unconscious biases.

So is it about training? Well, to some extent – once it is clear that the training is not about finding out what questions you can and can’t ask.  People need to understand the fundamentals abound discrimination – what it is, why it is to be avoided (not only to stay within the law, but to ensure solid decisions for the benefit of the organisation).  The best approach is to ensure that the hiring manager (and other panel members) are involved in identifying the requirements of the job and supported in carrying out the process in an objective manner.

Talbot Pierce support and advise employers on all aspects of HR and people management.  Contact us on (01) 902 0031 or Info@TalbotPierce.com.