25 Apr 2018

Chinese tech firms apologize for sexist job adverts

Chinese tech firms are under scanner after a recent Human Rights Watch (HRW) report slammed them over gender-discriminatory job ads.

Infamous for sexist recruitment practices, tech companies in China are known for rolling out vacancies only for men or for women of a certain age, height, weight and skin complexion, the ones billed as "attractive" and "aesthetically pleasing."

Hopefully, not anymore.

The report

HRW report analyzes over 36,000 job ads posted between 2013-2018

Titled "Only Men Need Apply: Gender Discrimination in Job Advertisements in China", the report claims job adverts by Chinese tech giants and public bodies propagate "traditional, deeply discriminatory views" portraying women as less committed/capable for jobs than men since they are also caregivers.

The 99-page report analyzes over 36,000 job ads posted on Chinese recruitment/company websites and social media in the last five years.


Companies under fire

Both public and private firms are under the line of fire.

The national civil service job list for 2018 had 19% employers wanting/preferring men.

E-commerce biggie Alibaba commonly refers to its female workers as "Ali beauties" and "goddesses" on social media.

Others slammed for stressing on the beauty of female employees include Tencent (WeChat's parent company), internet firm Baidu and leading telecom company Huawei.

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Erring companies pledge reform

Erring companies pledge reform

In the wake of the HRW report, the companies have pledged reform.

Alibaba would ensure stricter "compliance with our policy" of providing "equal opportunity regardless of gender."

Tencent would "take swift action" to ensure such embarrassments "don't happen again."

Baidu, meanwhile, deeply regretted "the instances where our job postings didn't align with our values."

Huawei has promised to be "fully sensitive to gender equality."

Way forward

Call for action

Though gender discrimination in recruitment and sexist advertisements are banned in China, the country's law doesn't clearly define gender discrimination and has few mechanisms to ensure effective enforcement. As a result, violating firms are seldom investigated.

Now through its extensive research and active campaigning, HRW is urging China to "adopt and enforce company policies prohibiting all forms of gender-based discriminatory job ads."

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