Fifty years ago, job applicants dealt with discrimination based on their skin color, sex and religious beliefs. And even though the average workplace is now more tolerant and inclusive, far too many Americans with disabilities still face discrimination when applying for jobs online. New website accessibility standards are forcing employers and their legal departments to reassess their online compliance practices. Recruiters across various industries are also keeping a watchful eye on the latest website regulatory updates to avoid discrimination lawsuits.
Why Recruiting & Job Sites Need Web Accessibility
By law, all businesses are required to be equal-opportunity employers. But even if their initial screening and hiring practices aren’t discriminatory on the surface, a company’s website might still be for potential applicants with physical or cognitive limitations. That’s a red flag for government regulators because the largest minority group in the U.S. is people with disabilities.
Sadly, a recent study by The Brookings Institution found that only about 40% of working-age Americans with physical disabilities currently hold down a job; a long existing pattern that the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed to address. To protect the growing number of people with disabilities who apply for jobs online, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1) were established by the World Wide Web Consortium. That’s now made staying WCAG-compliant a priority for both employers and recruiters.
Basic Guidelines for Website Accessibility
WCAG 2.1 standards stipulate that all websites must be operable, perceivable, robust and understandable for all site visitors. And, that includes any individual who has cognitive accessibility and vision restrictions. In simple terms, it is unlawful to discriminate against an individual with physical limitations if they’re otherwise capable of performing the required job tasks- including those who choose to search and apply for open jobs online.
For example, if your law firm’s website isn’t easily navigable for applicants who are legally blind or have a color contrast disorder, it might be wise to develop your website in a way that it can easily be accessed by those using screen reading software. If you’re a staffing agency, your website must provide the same level of accessibility for all candidates who want to learn about open job postings, including any qualified individual with a visual disability.
Why does all this matter? The ADA is recognized as a “strict liability law”. In other words, you cannot protect yourself against a discrimination lawsuit by pleading ignorance. In addition, WCAG 2.1 is now being referenced in courts across the country during website discrimination cases.
Why Accessibility Compliance Makes Business Sense
In addition to the fact you leave yourself open to getting sued, providing an “equal opportunity” website just makes good business sense. For example, if you’re the hiring KDM at a large company with a corporate counsel opening, you might miss out on a highly qualified attorney who happens to have a disability if they can’t navigate your employment page.
If your agency’s recruiting website isn’t very accessible, you may fail to connect with a talented candidate who has the perfect credentials for that new client you’ve been courting for months. In this high-tech digital age, having a website that’s accessible for everyone can be the difference between hitting your recruitment goals at the end of the year, or not.
Additional Considerations for Recruiting Website Accessibility
Here are some additional Web accessibility tips for recruiters:
- Post an accessibility statement on your site. Not only will that help protect you legally, it will also foster a more inclusive culture on the Web.
- With today’s focus on diversity and inclusion, develop a Web accessibility monitoring system that allows you to constantly project a more thoughtful and inclusive message to potential clients and candidates.
- Apply the same Web accessibility principles to your e-recruiting strategies.
- “Recruit” a good digital marketing agency that can save you time and money by ensuring Web accessibility compliance and monitoring.
We Provide Legal Recruiters with Website Accessibility Support
If you’re a legal recruiter or hiring team member at a prestigious law firm, Website accessibility can influence both your reputation and bottom line. With all the changes to the compliance standards it’s hard to stay updated when your calendar is full. At the Legal Recruiter Directory, we provide expert Web accessibility auditing, training and support assistance that’s tailored specifically to legal staffing agencies and recruitment firms.
In addition, the LRD helps legal headhunters nationwide connect active or passive attorney candidates to potential employers with career-enriching job openings so that all parties win.