In a country as diverse as South Africa, equal opportunities for job seekers is paramount to economic success. Therefore, when it comes to recruitment, it is important to ensure that there are opportunities for various candidates from differing background and of differing skills and experience levels. Finding a recruitment solution that allows everyone equal opportunity is not difficult, as long as you put some thought into your processes.
What Does “Equal Opportunities” Mean?
Though there are multiple definitions floating around, it’s generally agreed that ‘equal opportunities’ means that nobody should be discriminated against on the basis of their age, sex, race, religion, sexual orientation, HIV status or nationality. During the job search and hiring process, equal opportunities pertains specifically to those activities related to employment. Such activities include, but are not limited to:
Equal opportunities would also cover areas such as working environment – i.e. you cannot place somebody in an unsuitable environment on the basis of their age, sex, race etc.
In terms of job seekers specifically, equal opportunities means opening up your application and hiring process to anybody who meets the criteria, and not discriminating on any of the grounds mentioned previously.
What about Eligibility Criteria?
For any position and experience level, including junior candidates, you are perfectly entitled to set a minimum criteria which must be met. Many junior positions still require a degree of experience or expertise, which could be demonstrated via a qualification or prior experience within the field. The job search should be an initial filtering system which means only qualified candidates can apply – although qualified candidates of any background.
How to Ensure Equal Opportunities in the Workforce
Unless you are a recruitment expert, it’s probably best to involve a recruitment solutions organisation to help you design and streamline your initial interviewing and hiring processes. They can ensure you have a well worded job description, or even an online application system which does not specify details which could lead to discrimination.
It is also up to you as an employer to ensure that any interactions with customers, suppliers, clients or even other employees are constructive, support inclusion, and do not give rise to unfair discrimination.
Where junior candidates specifically are involved, it is also illegal to discriminate against them by dismissing them when they become eligible for senior roles or salaries. Reducing their hours is also illegal when the decision is based on their age or salary as a result of gaining more experience or becoming older.
Luckily, the advent of E-recruitment has resulted in a huge improvement in the ability and ease of recruiting employees whilst still providing equal opportunities, for the following reasons:
- Equal opportunities reporting has improved and is easier to access and distribute.
- Good practice recruitment frameworks are readily available to those who are responsible for posting job adverts or hiring candidates, often as a result of using a good recruitment agency. This then spreads throughout the entire organisation.
- The ease of online recruitment facilitates applications from disabled candidates
Despite this, you’ll also have to ensure that you’re compliant with any national regulations regarding equal opportunities, such as the Employment Equity Act. Within South Africa, every employer must take steps to ensure this.