Use of social networks in the hiring process

10Jul, 2018

Companies use different recruitment tools in order to maximize the screening of applicants so companies will recruit the most eligible person for the respective job. Nowadays, companies are using social network as a recruitment tool for this purpose. Companies are examining the profiles of users on social media websites such as facebook or twitter. Applicants are asked by the companies to give their username and in some cases, users are instructed to give their password as well (Gitman and McDaniel, 2008). This practice by companies raises a number of ethical and professional issues. There are two organizations in United Kingdom which provide code of ethics and code of conduct for social networking. These two organizations are British computer society (BCS) and Association for computing machinery (ACM).

The first ethical issue raised by this practice of companies is that they are breaching the privacy of the applicants and also forcing them to do something against their will. The ethical principle which handles this type of issue is called “privacy”. Some states in America have already banned this practice but other parts of the world are still doing this (Reynolds, 2015). If any applicant has agreed to give his username and password to any company then this act of the applicant also violates the terms of a website company called “facebook”. Facebook states in their “term and conditions” and under the section called “Registration and account security” that users are not allowed to share their password and let someone else access their account (Statement of rights and responsibilities, 2015). There is no such law which governs this action. However, this is something which is not ethically acceptable.

During the process of recruitment, if a company asks for a person’s username and password then it is just like someone asking for the house key to access their house in order to examine the personality of the house owner. In this regard, an organization called (ACM) states in their code of ethics under the section called “general moral imperatives”, that every individual or institution should respect the privacy of others (Code of ethics, 1992). The companies demanding the username and password are not respecting applicant’s privacy. In the regard of this ethical issue, the British computer society states under the section called “Public interest”, that every one shall have due regard for the privacy and well being of others (Code of conduct for BCS members, 2011).

Moreover, the second ethical issue raised by the use of social network in the hiring process is the discrimination of applicants on the basis of their religion, race, gender and disability. Carnegie Mallon University in Pennsylvania has done the research on this issue and the findings of their research states that according to their study, the employers were much more likely to offer an interview call to those candidates who were identified as Christian during the screening of their social media profiles. This is compared to applicants who were identified as Muslims (Richards, 2013). The ethical principle which handles this type of issue is called “equality”. There are laws and code of ethics and as well as code of conduct which can be used to stop this violation from the employer’s side.
If any employer discriminates any applicant during the recruitment process by selecting only those applicants who are from particular race or religion, then the employer is violating the law including the equality act 2010, which clearly states that any individual or organization is not allowed to discriminate anyone on the basis of race, gender, religion and disability (Equality act, 2010). The employers who are practicing this behaviour also violate the code of conduct given by the British computer society (BCS). It states under the section called “Public Interest” that everyone shall conduct their professional activities without discrimination on the ground of sex, religion, race or disability (Code of conduct for BCS members, 2011). The other association called “Association for Computing Machinery” also covers this ethical issue under the section called “Be fair and take action not to discriminate” and it clearly states that discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender or disability will not be tolerated and everyone should be treated with equality, tolerance and respect (Code of ethics, 1992).

Furthermore, the next ethical issue which is raised by using this recruitment tool is to restrict the applicant’s freedom of expression. This practice clearly indicates that if the employers are continuously practicing this recruitment tool then applicants would restrict themselves in order to gain benefits in comparison with other applicants when they are applying for a job (Broughton et al, 2013). For example, if the applicant already knows about the recruitment screening via social profiles then it is more likely that the applicant will restrict themselves on social media and would limit their views and opinions. There is also one major drawback for companies that they might recruit someone with extremist views on religion or other issues but they are pretending to be a gentle citizen. However, in reality, it’s the opposite (Institute of business ethics, 2011). The ethical principle which handles this type of issue is called “Freedom of expression”. This issue does not lie under any code of conduct or code of ethics but the human rights law of 1998 clearly states under the article 10 that everyone has the right to freedom of expression (Human Rights Act, 1998). Companies are indirectly stopping the applicants to express themselves freely on social websites.

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