OLDTOWN White Coffee, a popular Malaysian kopitiam, recently found itself in the centre of bad press after one of its job advertisements was deemed to be racist.
Unfortunately, OLDTOWN isn't the first to be caught in such scandal. Over the years, many companies have been called out for being discriminatory in their recruitment efforts.
Why do employers keep falling into the same traps, especially when countries like Singapore and Hong Kong make a big song and dance about recruitment guidelines and codes of practice when it comes to discrimination in the workplace?
Here are 5 things employers and HR leaders need to keep in mind when posting job advertisements.
1. Be conscious of unconscious bias
Let's be honest - we like people who are like us. But that's no reason to recruit carbon copies of yourself! In fact, doing so can create the dangerous phenomenon of 'group think', which is a massive no-no if your company wants to stay ahead of the curve. Getting rid of unconscious bias can be hard, but being aware of it is the first step.
2. Know the law
Even though Singapore's government is pushing for the hiring of more locals, there are still strict policies in place to make sure the recruitment process remains fair. The country's Fair Consideration Framework is a good model to try and emulate, regardless of whether you're a Singapore-based company or not.
Much like in Singapore, Hong Kong's labour legislation is detailed, and has been broken up to prevent discrimination against age, sexual orientation and gender.
With all these resources available online, companies really don't have an excuse to hide behind.
3. Use your words wisely
So you're aware of potential unconscious bias, and you know your laws. But putting that in writing can be tough. Make sure your job ads cannot be misinterpreted or misunderstood.
Also, avoid writing statements such as "So-and-so need not apply" or "Open to Malaysians only".
4. Be justified
We understand there are times where you're going to have to fill a role that's pretty niche, and you will need to list specific requirements on the job advertisement. In those situations, be justified in why those criteria have been listed. It may also be a good idea to note you are open to meeting candidates who don't possess those skills. After all, you never know when cross-functional hiring might work for you.
5. Get a second opinion
Or a third. If you've been writing JDs and posting ads for a while, there's a small chance you might have overlooked something. Particularly with all these revised regulations, have someone else - maybe even someone who isn't in HR or is the hiring manager - to take a look at the posting before it goes live. Yes, it's a little bit more work, but it seems a favourable alternatively to facing the wrath of an offending public.
Do you have any internal policies to make sure job postings are candidate-friendly? Share them with us in the comments below.