Take Pride in your job adverts to avoid a fall

New guidance by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has highlighted the pitfalls and dangers of ads and marketing aimed at or featuring members of the LGBT community.

As more organisations target groups that are unrepresented in their workforce, Stephen Jennings, partner at Tozers Solicitors, says that when advertising jobs, and in their marketing communications, employers and recruiters must tread a fine line between not mentioning sexual orientation and gender, and the risk that by doing so they cause offence.

“Because it is such a sensitive topic it will be hard to avoid the risk that someone will be offended if you mention it at all, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t – sometimes it is important to stand up for what you believe in, eg. by promoting LGBT+ rights. 

“Genuine and positive messaging around Pride should be absolutely defensible, and the ASA guidance helpfully makes it plain that they would never uphold a complaint purely on the basis that some people may be offended by any mention of homosexuality,” Jennings told Recruiter.

Melanie Stancliffe, partner at law firm Irwin Mitchell, told Recruiter that the new ASA guidelines were “a sense check for the industry, and a reminder to employers and recruiters that they needed to exercise caution when publishing job adverts”.

She continued: “They must ensure the language and images, such as graphics, photographs and illustrations, are devoid of stereotypical assumptions about people of a particular demographic or protected characteristic, and language such as ‘robust’, which may attract more men.

“Using such language and images can create the inference that discriminatory criteria will be used in selecting the candidate and give rise to a risk of a claim of discrimination and a discriminatory culture. An employer may also be liable where the requirements set out in the advertisement are indirectly discriminatory.

“This isn’t just about the Equality Act 2010; recruiters should also be aware of potential damage to their reputation of publishing inappropriate job adverts which are offensive.”

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