5 Minutes On: Recruiters, Stop Asking For Sexual Orientation At Application!

by | Sep 17, 2020

Asking for sexual orientation on a job application? WT….

Frustrated rant on asking about sexual orientation was transcribed by Otter.ai.

Hello, it’s Katrina Collier. I apologise that I haven’t done this for a few days. But I realised I really only wanted to do this when I had something that I seriously wanted to say to the recruitment industry.

So Shannon Pritchett shared with me this poll yesterday. “I’ve been surprised at the number of complaints from recruiters that they are being asked to self-identify their sexual orientation on a job application. Many organisations ask applicants to self-identify to ensure they are capturing a diverse slate of candidates. Most recruiters and hiring managers don’t have access to their responses. It stays within HR, usually.” And then, of course, it went on to ask, you know, ‘would you be honest, none of their business, not sure I’d skip it’.

Of course, I think it’s none of their business. In fact, I’d like you to stop it. Because I believe it’s incredibly off-putting. I mean, if you remember back in the day when you get those, well you may still get them but I’m going back a while since I was an employee, where you’d have a, you know, your annual survey? What did you think of the company and as you’re filling it out, you’re thinking, ‘this is so going to have my name attached to it, isn’t it? Whatever I say here, it’s not really going to be anonymous because the tech, you know, it can track.’ So people do probably feel that on that application that it is being tracked. So if they do write, that they are BI or they’re gay or something other than heterosexual is it going to work against them? So please stop it, because it’s just putting people off.

If you really want to get a diverse pool of people, show that you’re a diverse company, and more importantly, that you’re an inclusive company. If you have heard me speak, you’ll have heard me refer to ThoughtWorks, I can’t think how many times I’ve referred to ThoughtWorks because if you go to their website, you can very quickly go to their Insights and into their Diversity and Inclusion and absolutely see what the company is like. Where it’s so wonderful is it allows the employees to share their stories, their genuine stories. They don’t shy away from anything. They’re just, they’re so inclusive. Please go and have a look, I will put the link to the website. They’re an IT consultancy. So they have got clients but they’re not concerned about putting off any potential clients. They’re not concerned about putting off future employees or anybody like that. They just share stories from their employees right there on the website. So if somebody is, you know, gay or BI or trans or anything else and, you know, doesn’t identify as male or female, they can see these stories and they can see this is a properly inclusive company. So then you don’t have to have a tick box exercise to say, are we x y z because we’ve got to hit our diverse targets you just naturally are you’re naturally showing who your people are and you will naturally attract the people that you need to to be a diverse organisation.

And I find it as off-putting, as you know, do you have criminal conviction? So for example, here in the UK, it’s something like 50% of the convictions for men are for driving offences. So if you’re not asking somebody to drive a car, you don’t need to have the tick box, hence is Ban the Box campaign. So again, with the sexual orientation, it’s like, unless you’re actually asking somebody to have sex as part of the duties of that role, what difference does it make to your company? Truly, does it actually impact their ability to do the job?

Not really. Truly, not really. Maybe it makes you feel uncomfortable to work with somebody who doesn’t have the same sexual orientation as you maybe that’s more a reflection on you. But genuinely, I don’t feel 99% of the people who are recruiting on LinkedIn, for example, I know this is also going out and Facebook and Periscope, but I don’t believe that they’re looking for people where sex is part of the duties!

So anyway, that’s my little rant that I’m having. Actually, I haven’t quite made five minutes, I’m quite surprised. I feel really wound up about it. I will share the link. I’m quite surprised at the results, like 48% of people are saying Yes, I’d be honest and answer the question. 45% say none of their business and 7% say they skip it. See, I even think skipping it is saying something, it’s sending a message. Is that going to ruin your application? I just don’t think it’s necessary at that stage. In fact, I don’t really think it’s necessary at any stage. But you know, maybe I’m really naive, and I’m just ranting for five minutes.

Later on today, we have The #SocialRecruiting Show, don’t miss out on that. We’re actually will be talking about neurodiversity in recruitment, which will be really cool. I will be ranting far less. And I’m only going to do these now, I’ve decided when I really have something that I want to say and this is just one of those. Could you please please just stop asking this question at the point of application it is just not necessary. I think there are far better ways that we can hit our D&I targets without doing something like that. 

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