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Recruiters: How to Avoid Discrimination in Your Job Adverts

Recruiters: How to Avoid Discrimination in Your Job Adverts


These days, we all have to be careful about discrimination in recruitment. It’s also worth remembering that you might be breaking the law if any discrimination happens during their recruitment process, even if you use a recruitment agency.
Last Updated: 24-Oct-2017

The key areas to avoid in your job adverts are:

  • Age  discrimination
  • Disability discrimination
  • Gender discrimination
  • Race or religion discrimination

Firstly and most obviously, you must not include anything in your job advert that directly says you’ll discriminate against anyone. For example, you’re not allowed to state you can’t or won’t employ workers with a disability, of a certain age, gender etc.

Be careful using phrases like ‘highly experienced’ or ‘recent graduate’ unless these are actual requirements of the job. Otherwise you may be discriminating against younger (or older) people who may not have had the opportunity to get qualified.

Avoid phrases such as 'German sales rep'. In this case, 'German-speaking sales rep' should be used, as it is the language skill that's needed not the nationality.

Although these are more relevant to the interview stage, the UK government says you should avoid questions about an individual's “Protected Characteristics” - these include:

  • Age
  • being or becoming a transsexual person
  • being married or in a civil partnership
  • Have children (or plan to)
  • being pregnant or on maternity leave
  • disability
  • race including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin
  • religion, belief or lack of religion/belief
  • sex
  • sexual orientation

Indirect discrimination should also be avoided. For example, if your job advert sets certain criteria that puts a certain group of people at a disadvantage over another, completely blocking them from applying for the role. Unless there is a genuine reason that you can justify the criteria, then it may be unlawful and seen as discrimination.

It could also be regarded as indirect discrimination if you only advertise your vacancies in men’s magazines.

However, if a disabled person and a non-disabled person both meet the job requirements, you CAN treat the disabled person more favourably.

This is only scratching the surface, and it’s worth reading and familiarising yourself with the UK Government’s Policy and advice -  read here: