Are targeted recruitment systems are fair, and why?
Many organizations adopt a targeted recruitment strategy. For example, Home Depot has targeted workers 50 and above in its recruitment efforts, which include advertising specifically in media outlets frequented by older individuals. Other organizations target recruitment messages at women, minorities, or those with desired skills.
Like so much in the realm of human resources, targeted recruitment is a complex issue. I see how one could see it as blatently unfair. Yet, I think that there are some elements to take into account. If targeted recruitment does not take away from another group of people, then I don't see it as necessarily a bad thing. Employers should have the ability to see their workforce as needing to be more representative. In the case of Home Depot, a more seasoned workforce makes sense. As more and more young people lack the ability to "build things," it might make more sense to hire someone who has had more experience with being able to know the different types of wrenches and which tool is best for which job. I "get it," in terms of how targeting a particular group such as more mature workers might be seen as unfair. The Supreme Court, though, has weighed in on this and suggested that such a practice is not unfair and does not violate the Federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act or the notion of equal opportunity in its decision General Dynamics Land Systems v. Cline:
If Congress had been worrying about protecting the younger against the older, it would not likely have ignored everyone under 40. In addition, the court found that there was no evidence that younger workers suffered when their elders were favored.
There is a reality that employers might wish to diversify their work forces for a variety of reasons. I don't think that targeted recruitment systems are unfair in this light. The Supreme Court's rules loom heavy here in terms of ensuring that the desire to diversify the workforce should not come at the cost of closing doors to others. Employers are bound by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the monitoring of hiring practices to ensure that opportunity is open to all is a way in which one can see how targeted recruitment can be used in a way that increased opportunity and diversity and does not impede it.