Discrimination


The UK has some excellent laws preventing discrimination. According the Equality Act (2010) it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of...

  • age
  • being or becoming a transsexual person
  • being married or in a civil partnership
  • being pregnant or having a child
  • disability
  • race including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin
  • religion, belief or lack of religion/belief
  • sex
  • sexual orientation

That's a pretty good set of principles! Ok, so what can a prospective employer discriminate on?

Star Sign

The traditional Zodiac is based on when in the year you were born - so technically it's not age discrimination. I'm not sure if the Chinese Zodiac may also be acceptable in terms of discrimination as it is based on the year of your birth.

Smoking

Who wants a smelly smoker on their team? Always taking breaks, more likely to be ill, and with addictive tendencies. Yuck!

(Incidentally, in the UK, you can't force workers to breathe second-hand smoke.)

Cat Person or Dog Person?

Obviously, if someone needs a Guide Dog, you can't discriminate against them. But if you just don't trust people who like cats - go right ahead and kick them to the curb.

Chirality

That is, whether a person is left or right handed.

The Christians' Bible is very clear that left hand people are sinners - as are many other religious texts.

Even if you're not convinced in the wickedness of their sinister ways, the cost of having to adapt your office and buy stationery which suits their perverted "lifestyle choice" is probably too much to bear.

It is OK to discriminate against lefties - it is not a real disability.

Beer or Wine

If someone doesn't drink due to their religion - or pregnancy, disability, etc - it is not OK to refuse to hire them.

If, however, someone doesn't want to spend their evenings after work hanging out in a bar near the office - you're totally fine to dump their application in the bin.

Vegetarianism

Look, Friday is Pepperoni Pizza day in the office. That's just the way it is. Maybe we can order a chicken pizza for those keeping Kosher or Halal - but our team really bonds around the eating of meat. Those plant-loving weirdos just won't fit in to our office, sorry bro!

I suggest making one of your quirky interview questions "what's your favourite pizza topping?" - that'll help uncover any crypto-herbivores.

Sports Team

If you are a rabid Accrington Stanley fan, and the person interviewing you goes for Melchester Rovers - tough shit. Your cultures are going to clash and you won't be hired.

Culture Fit

All these reasons are utterly ridiculous, aren't they? What sane business would use these as hiring criteria?

What are you doing when you say that you hire for "culture fit"?

Unless you are in an extremely niche business, your customers are going to be a diverse group of people. A homogeneous workplace just isn't conducive to understanding the wide and diverse needs of all your stakeholders.

Yes, you have to work with someone 8 hours a day and it can be a little bit annoying if they don't get your awesome comic-book references, or like the same songs as you, or want to spend their evenings drinking craft beer with you. It's OK for you to change to accommodate them! Like any ecosystem, your team benefits from diversity.

It might shake things up in your cosy little team but, guess what, the real disruption comes from within!

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