Evelina Silveira, President Diversity At Work in London Inc.
It is hard enough finding a job these days, but what many recruiters may not realize is that they could be placing unnecessary barriers in the way of good candidates applying for jobs.
With the type of work I do, I frequently find myself going through job boards looking for trends. Lately, I have noticed how a position that once covered a small area is now responsible for an entire region. For example, instead of a human services worker just covering London, Ontario they may need to cover the counties as well. The job may be part-time and on a contract basis. I am seeing more jobs requiring a drivers’ licence even when the employee is not required to travel outside of the city or leave the office everyday.
Adding a requirement of a driver’s licence these days, can discriminate against the poor and people with disabilities who do not drive. When I see how wages have been lowered in many cases during this recession, combined with the increasing amount of contract work versus permanent work, it is quite feasible that there will be a lot of people out there who cannot afford to buy a car for their jobs, or even be able to keep the one they have. A friend of mine was offered a part-time job with a local organization and when she had to tell them she did not have a car to use for the job, they denied her the opportunity. This by no means was a high paying job and with a little creativity on both the employer and candidate’s side she could have been hired and she would have been the best candidate.
With our increasing emphasis on workplace inclusivity and reducing barriers to employment, employers need to critically examine whether a driver’s licence and access to a car is truly necessary. Obviously there are some jobs where both will be required, but in most cases they probably are not.
Ask the prospective employee how will they get around without having a vehicle? They may have easy access to public transportation and are willing to make up the lost time or could be willing to pay for an occasional taxi. Don’t underestimate what some people are willing to do or the supports that they may have in place to help them get around if they need to.
You can let them know what you can offer them in terms of a budget for transportation based on what you usually allocate to employees for mileage and gas. As an organization, you can also have employees who are driving to the same area to team up with those who don’t have cars and drop them off where they need to be. You don’t want certain employees to feel that they are providing a taxi service for people who drive, so look at rotating this. Obviously, when it comes to hiring qualified people with disabilities for the job you will need to look at accommodating them to the point of undue hardship on the organization.
With creativity and “thinking outside the box”, we can create more equitable hiring practices.