Thursday, 1 September 2016

Is your employer profiling you?

A study was just released  showing that employers are profiling current and potential employees by using information they have posted on social media. According to the study, an astonishing 55% even have a "profiling policy" in place to support the practice. According to The Conversation there are also candidates who claim they were asked to give their social media passwords to their prospective employer!

From an employers perspective, this is skating some legal lines as they can open themselves up to claims of discrimination and breaches of the Privacy Act. But assuming the study is true, and this is still occurring, what can you do as an employee?

We already know that there is discrimination in recruitment, and not always intentionally. According to Weekend Sunrise on August 28, research suggests that given the same CV, but one with a male name and one with a female name, the male will be interviewed ; and it is the same where three resumes are provided but only one has an aglo-celtic name, that one will be chosen over the other two.

Now, let's consider a situation where you have posted on Facebook something that an unscrupulous employer decides would have an impact on your work life. Let's say that you are pregnant, or looking after an elderly parent. You may not receive a job offer and you suspect that the Company looked at your Facebook posts and used that as a decision making factor. But, how can you prove it? I would say in the vast majority of cases, you can't. So, prevention is always better than cure.

1. Never comment on your Company, Manager, colleagues, or actually anything about your workplace, on social media

You may wonder why this needs to be said, but there are plenty of cases that have been held where an employee has been disciplined or terminated for doing just that. Saying "I hate Mondays" is entirely different to "My boss is a --insert swear word here--" and the latter is what can get you in some hot water. Even if your privacy settings are locked down, you never know which friend of yours may actually be friends with (or related to!) your boss or feel obligated to report you due to their own role in the organisation.

2. Set up Google Alerts

It is best to know what people will find when they Google your name, so set up a google alert. This is super easy and especially handy if you have an uncommon name. If your name is Jack Smith, then set up an alert for your name and profession (think about what a prospective employer would Google so, "Jack Smith IT Manager", for example, may be your Google alert)

3. Think about your public social media presence as a brand

Whatever social media you have, check what information is "public". 
If you have a private Instagram account, then don't accept followers you don't know. 
With Facebook, ALL profile pictures are public, and remain that way long after you've put up a new profile picture, so it may be prudent to go back and edit the settings of some of those past photos.
And don't forget LinkedIn. This is the go to site for employers to check candidates (after all it is set up as an online resume), so please make sure your data is up to date and your profile photo is appropriate. You may have had a lot of fun at that glamour photography shoot, but for a corporate role, it probably isn't the best photo to use.

What can I do if I believe I have been discriminated against?

It depends on the situation, but generally speaking you should first put your allegations to the Company. If this is not resolved in an appropriate way, you can either seek assistance from Fair Work (search General Protections - Adverse Action) or the Anti-Discrimination Board in your State or Territory

More workplace tips

Whether you are an employee or run your own business, we'd love for you to join us at Savvy Business Women, our Facebook group dedicated to information, collaboration and support for Business Women.

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