Social media has made it more convenient than ever to communicate with the entire world. It allows celebrities to connect with their fans. It makes it easy for you to keep up with your friends from high school. And it’s also become a valuable avenue to share information.
Many employers have begun utilizing social media platforms like Facebook to announce job postings and attract potential applicants. While this method of advertising offers many advantages, it’s important for employers to inform themselves about its potential pitfalls.
A tailored approach to advertising
Facebook advertising offers certain advantages of posting your company’s job opening on a job site or your own website. On Facebook, you can define who sees your ad – through a feature known as “audience targeting.” This is an innovative approach to advertising, because it actually allows you to specify the type of applicants you want your ad to reach – based on such criteria as geographic location, interests and other personal attributes.
Let’s say you run a video game development company in Toronto. You can tailor your job ad to target residents within a 50-mile radius of Toronto who have an interest in video games and a bachelor’s degree in computer science.
What’s the downside?
While Facebook ads can help you to connect with a select subset of candidates, it’s important to understand that there are legal restrictions that prevent you from targeting your ads in a way that discriminates against certain groups. The Canadian Human Rights Act states that you cannot discriminate against potential employees based on certain protected categories – such as race, age, gender or sexual orientation. Therefore, creating a job ad on Facebook that excludes any portion of these protected groups could be a violation of human rights law.
CBC News recently conducted an investigation of over 260 Canadian job postings on Facebook. It found that in around 60% of cases, ads targeted a specific age range. In addition, 16 ads targeted one gender specifically. Even some government agencies were found to have job postings with inappropriate audience targeting.
It’s easy to think of employment-related discrimination law as pertaining exclusively to the words and actions towards someone who has already been hired. But it’s important to remember that excluding certain groups from an employment opportunity is also an offence, under the law.