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Preventing discrimination and promoting diversity
07 April 2017
There are multiple ways employers may directly or indirectly discriminate against applicants and employees. Switzerland has laws and regulations in place to help companies clarify exactly what discrimination in the workplace is. As an employer, it is vital to stay on top of the laws on discrimination and strive to promote diversity.
Under current employment law, it’s illegal to discriminate on the following grounds:
- Religion or beliefs
- Race, ethnicity and skin colour
- Pregnancy/maternity leave
- Sexual orientation
- Gender reassignment
- Trade union membership
- Employment status
Discreet vs Direct discrimination
Direct discrimination is when an employer discriminates against a candidate or employee based upon one or more of the reasons listed above. It can also be defined as giving an unfair advantage to a certain group of people, thereby eliminating others from consideration.
Indirectly discriminating happens when a company or employer demands something of the employees that disadvantages an entire group of people. A good example of indirect discrimination would be if an employer issued a ban on all head coverings in the workplace. This regulation would indirectly discriminate against those who wear head coverings for religious reasons.
How to avoid discrimination during the recruitment phase
Recruiters should watch out for cases of discrimination in the following areas:
• Job advertisements: nowhere can it state that a potential candidates should (or should not) be any one of the characteristics listed above. This means no mention of age, race, gender, etc. A professional can read through an advertisement to make sure a company has not accidentally used discriminatory language.
• Personal requirements listed in a job description: only personal requirements that are absolutely essential for the open position should be listed. You could, for example, ask to know if a candidate has mobility issues or has the physical strength to fulfil a job, but again, be very careful and consult an expert who understands the laws in Switzerland.
• Interviews: keep questions relevant to the job for which the candidate is being interviewed. Too many personal questions can lead you astray. If it is known beforehand that a candidate has a disability, make sure you accommodate their special needs and are respectful..