11

This question is similar to this one, but is the converse position.

I started a consulting business awhile ago and was looking for some software engineers to fill a position. I wear all the hats since we are so small.

One resume that I received seemed to have decent experience, etc., but at the bottom they had a large section about how they were Mormon, their beliefs, etc.

Now, full disclosure, I'm an atheist myself, so once this was disclosed, it causes an implicit bias from me, which I cannot control.

My question is, should HR/companies have a policy in place for receiving these sorts of resumes to minimize violating the EEOC?

Would a policy which states that all resumes disclosing this information (any religious affiliation including atheism) will not be considered be acceptable?

Of course, such a policy would be spelled out in any resume solicitation.

  • Comments removed. Please avoid using comments for extended conversation. Instead get a room. – Monica Cellio Mar 4 '15 at 4:28
10

This is going to happen no matter what you do. Suppose someone didn't put it on their resume but came to an interview with a cross, crescent or star of David symbol somewhere on their person? You can't unsee that either, and it has the potential to cause the same bias. Consider the differences in personal grooming or dress you might encounter that readily identify a particular religion or sect. These individuals have (in the US) the freedom to express it, and you have the responsibility to ignore it.

Given that, you should treat this email/resume just like any one of the other factors that may be present. You should ignore them and consider the candidate on merit. If you choose against the candidate, simply document the reasoning in the candidate's file and keep that file somewhere. Make sure all of the reasons apply specifically to the job, skills and nature of the required work.

Be very specific. You can't just write "I don't think he'd make a good salesman". Write down why you think that thing. Make sure you write down positive attributes as well. If the candidate has excellent math skills and poor communication skills note them both. If they can't speak the necessary language to satisfaction be HONEST about that. If you need someone who speaks French and someone applies who technically speaks French but doesn't speak it well, then note that in the file.

The only way to prove a lack of bias is to document your reasoning in your decisions. If your actions are made on the bias you're indicating, then your reasons will be proportionally flimsy and vapid.

  • @blaughw: How typically PC. I stand by my usage and wording. As Carlin would say: "Simple, honest, direct language". – Joel Etherton Mar 4 '15 at 17:38
  • Fair enough, it's your answer. :) – blaughw Mar 4 '15 at 18:17
6

So your concern is rather straight forward. While you do not intend to hold a bias against someone of opposing beliefs you recognize despite consciously feeling no bias subconsciously that bias is still very real.

Objective Hiring process

Even taking the EEOC, ethics, and morals off the table Objective hiring is very important. If you don't go out of your way to ensure objectivity then the choice of who to hire becomes primarily subjective. Subjective hiring is when people make mistakes and hire the underqualified charismatic person, allow personal prejudices and biases to bleed through.

How you make your hiring process objective isn't as important as doing so. A flawed process is better than no process.

In my case the first step is I put up an application process where applicants need to apply online. This formats their resume to be exactly the same as all resumes we receive. (We allow them to attach their own, but to be entirely honest HR only looks at those far enough to see if they're well made or have any obvious red flags)

When I'm ready to go through the resumes I print them out, as they go through our application I don't get names or contact information. Just an applicant number, working experience, educational background, objective, etc. This really helps to vet the worst bias such as religion, gender, age, ethnicity, etc. You can still have bias regarding choice of education, past employers, etc. but honestly removing that information makes the resume completely worthless in my opinion as not all employers and schools are remotely equal.

from here we review the resumes in a "Beats Expectations", "Meets Expectations", "Does not meet expectations" The final pile is removed from consideration.

Now we arrange phone interviews based on our favorite resumes working our way down until we wind up with ~Five people we decide to ultimately interview in person.

On the phone we just probe your personality and technical experience. This is honestly mostly just to watch for red flags of people who won't fit our needs. (most of the time this boils down to bad attitude or clearly not as knowledgeable as we need)

Then we perform an in person interview where the person meets several members of the team after which we all come together to decide what we think and we end up hiring whomever the team collectively sees as our best candidate.

It's not a flawless system, but by keeping the first phase anonymous then involving the entire team in the process it really helps avoid biases as well as by involving the team it helps avoid hiring clashing personalities. (and sometimes you'll have a team members who have outside knowledge about candidates that can be very valuable in avoiding bad hires and promoting a good hire you might otherwise overlook)

  • I think masking personal information in the initial review process is a smart thing to do. – user8365 Mar 3 '15 at 22:53
2

The other answers are good - but I believe they miss an important part of your question.

should HR/companies have a policy in place for receiving these sorts of resumes to minimize violating the EEOC?

Yes. There are usually two ways to go about this:

  1. Have the prospective employee fill in an online form. This way you only get the information for which you asked. The downside is, employees generally hate filling these in.
  2. HR should screen the CVs and "blank out" any information which is inappropriate. For example, removing photos, gender, date of birth etc. The downside is that you need an HR department - or an employee who understands the law and isn't part of the hiring decision. It may also be obvious to the hiring manager that a part of the CV has been removed.

You can try to implement your suggestion - saying "in the interest of fairness, please do not include your gender, marital status, faith, ... etc. on your application" - but candidates may ignore that, and you're back to square one.

0

You cannot discriminate in your hiring and firing for religious beliefs but also, you must be willing to allow your employees to practice their religion. This may require you to alter the work environment to accommodate those beliefs. Since that is a requirement, I don't see how you can ask potential job candidates to refrain from disclosing their beliefs.

The Act requires employers to reasonably accommodate the religious practices of an employee or prospective employee, unless to do so would pose an undue hardship to the employer. A reasonable religious accommodation is any adjustment to the work environment that will allow the employee to practice his religion. Flexible scheduling, voluntary substitutions or swaps, job reassignments, and lateral transfers are examples of accommodating an employee's religious beliefs.

http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/wysk/religious_discrimination.cfm

  • 1
    I don't think the OP wants to discriminate; he's asking about ways to avoid unintentional discrimination. – Monica Cellio Mar 3 '15 at 22:02
  • @MonicaCellio - How can you accommodate someone's religious practices if you insist they don't tell you what they are? You are discriminating whether you want to or not. – user8365 Mar 3 '15 at 22:51
  • Of course I would abide by the EEOC after hiring occurs. As @MonicaCellio said, I want to avoid unintentional bias during the hiring process itself. – daaxix Mar 4 '15 at 22:11
  • @daaxix - There are some people who dress and groom themselves based on their religious beliefs. Telling people during the interview process to refrain from disclosing their beliefs is asking for trouble. You'll need to be very careful in your wording. Would you do this for gender? – user8365 Mar 9 '15 at 1:51
0

Many people include a volunteerism/awards/affiliations section in their resume. This could include information about a person's religious affiliation or just mention of faith-related activities, such as receiving a community service award from a local church, or holding an elected position amongst religious leadership. Here's another example: what if someone mentions he's a member of the Knights of Columbus? That immediately provides identifying religious information.

What if the person graduated from a clearly religiously affiliated school such as Brigham Young or Liberty University? Some people's religion can likely be discerned just from looking at their last name, such as Jain.

Less likely though certainly possible is that someone has actually worked for a religious institution in some administrative or technical capacity. That work could (quite reasonably, expectedly) be referenced in their professional experience section, possibly in such a way that it shows the person is affiliated with that group, or that affiliation could be assumed based on the person's length of tenure in that role.

Inclusion of religious information in a resume is fine, so long as the reference is brief and illustrates an interest, acknowledgement or skill set that could be useful to the position being applied for. I don't believe there's a need for HR to remove it completely before resumes are passed on, nor is there a benefit to them doing so if the information is relevant to the potential employee's qualifications for the job.

Without having a lot of information, it sounds like the info dump about Mormonism was totally unnecessary and unrelated to the activities of the job description. Because a discussion of accommodation of religious beliefs should take place either during interviews or after employment, I can't see how that space on the resume was put to good use. It doesn't sound like the candidate knows how to market him or herself very well, which would be a subtle ding against them, similarly to showing up looking unkempt for an interview. If you got enough information about the candidate from the resume to consider interviewing that person then go forward, and in this case it sounds like you did get that info.

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