Ethical Staffing in the COVID-19 Digital Age: Are a New Set of Ethical Practices Needed to Guide Selection?

Ethical Staffing in the COVID-19 Digital Age: Are a New Set of Ethical Practices Needed to Guide Selection?

Kevin Jones, Nazish Saba
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-4358-3.ch003
(Individual Chapters)
No Current Special Offers


This chapter discusses ethical hiring practices in the digital age and argues for the necessity of ethical hiring processes. An examination of hiring before and during the COVID-19 pandemic describes the increased use of digital technologies to aid the ethical hiring process. A particular focus is on the increased use of artificial intelligence (AI) tools to aid in screening and selection. Unethical hiring practices are examined showing the potential adverse outcomes which may result. The chapter concludes with model and a set of guidelines to illustrate the components that enable ethical hiring processes and incorporate the use of AI.
Chapter Preview


The Challenges of Hiring

Hiring employees is an essential component of a successful organization. Finding the best talent and gaining optimum performance from hires are the basic goals of all employers. When choosing the best potential performer, it is important that organizations consider all available information about various candidates and objectively decide on the best potential performer for the organization. Ideally, hiring choices are the best match for the organization and the applicant.

The COVID-19 pandemic significantly disrupted the employment process and added complexity to the already challenging hiring process. Hiring processes involve handling large amounts of data, including sorting through applications, cover letters, resumes, and other information. This time-consuming activity is conducted by busy professionals who must allocate significant time to review data and interview candidates.

The rise of the COVID-19 pandemic had many consequences for organizations. Companies and the workforce faced many challenges at once. Work was restricted from office settings to hybrid and remote work. There was rising concern regarding employee safety due to COVID-19, and that fear caused an increase in demand to work remotely. During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses were temporarily or permanently shut down, whereas others continued operation despite the challenges (Institute for Business Value, 2020). Depending on the impact of the pandemic and the economic implications, some organizations have temporarily froze hiring, while others have increased hiring. Companies are adapting fast to new structures to maintain operations and retain existing talent (Pratt & Florentine, 2021).

The emergence of the pandemic accelerated the use of technological tools to enhance the hiring process. In early 2021, the Society for Human Resource Management (Maurer, 2021) predicted that organizations would increase the use of “virtual” technologies. Many organizations in various industries have incorporated digital technology to meet hiring needs. The pandemic hiring challenges have led more employers to choose artificial intelligence (AI) tools (Loten, 2022). This increased use of AI in hiring continues despite potential ethical concerns associated with AI-aided hiring (Dattner et al., 2019; Hauer et al., 2021). The reality is that organizations are transforming their hiring practices. In the post pandemic environment, the hiring practices of many organizations will increasingly rely on AI tools to support the efficiency and effectiveness of hiring, despite ethical concerns and potential preferences of applicants. Given the presence and expected increase in digital technology to enable the hiring process, the question is: Are a new set of hiring ethics needed?


Hiring And Ethics

Hiring is a continuous process, as organizations are always looking for top talent. In the United States, various federal and state laws create expectations for objectivity, fairness, nondiscrimination, equal opportunity, and privacy in the hiring process. To align with these legal aspects, many organizations have policies that give expectations for an equitable and objective hiring process.

Ethical hiring can be described as ensuring that applicants are objectively screened, and that candidate consideration is based on the qualifications specified in the position description. Additionally, ethical hiring involves selecting the best candidate based on the objective data recruiters collect during screening, interviewing, and selection decision-making. Hiring processes should be free of prejudice, discrimination, and unfounded biases.

The hiring process inherently has an unavoidable bias in the preferences of hiring managers and/or human resource (HR) professionals present when making hiring decisions. The goal is not to eliminate bias (this is not fully attainable), but to understand biases that supersede the collected data which should drive the employee selection. Ethical hiring involves understanding the components of the hiring process that can result in inequitable, discriminatory, or ineffective hiring, and subsequently designing processes to mitigate adverse potentials in the hiring process. Ethical hiring processes enable those in the hiring process to mitigate the adverse impacts of biased beliefs and perceptions that can hinder the ability to select the best potential performer.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Hiring Processes: Activities that enable the recruitment, screening, interviewing, and selection of applicants for organizational work roles.

COVID-19 Pandemic: The title of the global spread of an airborne and surface contact infectious disease attributed to the SARS-Co-V2 virus.

Hiring Ethical Issues: Hiring process or actions that are inconsistent with legal requirements, organizational policy expectations or actions that create inequitable or unfair selection outcomes.

Ethical Hiring: Hiring processes that ensure that applicants are objectively screened, and candidate consideration are based on the qualifications specified in the position description. Further, applications and candidates are processes in accordance with applicable policies and laws ensuring fairness, equity, transparency, and objectivity.

Artificial Intelligence (AI): Algorithmic applications that enable computers to simulate human actions and thinking using data.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: