An institution asks: What are the major legal concerns our search committee should bear in mind as we try to recruit candidates in a non-discriminatory manner?
Non-discriminatory recruitment of candidates requires compliance with federal, state and local anti-discrimination legislation. To avoid discrimination in hiring, search committees should consider the following guidelines:
Broadly disseminate employment opportunity information. Generally, do not express or imply a preference/requirement based on protected characteristics. One exception is that religious organizations may grant hiring preferences in favor of their members.
Ask candidates similar job-related questions based on the position profile’s pre-established leadership criteria and the duties candidates will have to successfully perform (i.e. strategic planning, fundraising, etc.) Refrain from—directly or indirectly—asking questions that solicit protected information. Indirect inquiries are typically the most problematic. They might include asking candidates to list all organizations to which they belong. Instead, a lawful inquiry would be to ask candidates to list professional associations and other work-related organizations to which they belong.
Assess candidates based on objective information provided by written credentials, references, and interviews. Unless a lawful exception applies, refrain from considering protected characteristics. Further, encourage committee members to support their judgments with objective evidence to ensure that opinions are not clouded by subjective considerations.
Thanks to Shannon McCambridge, AGB Search consultant, for this post. For information about compliance in other key areas, consider Top 10 Campus Legal Issues for Boards, just released today.