How to Avoid Being Discriminatory in Online Job Ads

Here are 3C’s to help you write a fair job advertisement.

17 Dec 2020 Articles Recruitment Best practices

Online Job Advertisement

Organisations are increasingly leveraging online platforms to reach out to potential candidates (e.g. organisation websites, career portals, social media, etc.) in addition to traditional channels such as newspapers, posters on shopfronts, etc.

Likewise, searching for jobs online has also become the most common mode among local professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs), and this is also gaining popularity amongst the non-PMET job seekers1.

Regardless of the platform used, all job advertisements are expected to adhere to the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices. How do you ensure that your job postings are non-discriminatory and attract the right talent pool?

Here are 3C’s to help you:

CRAFT job requirements based on qualifications, skills, knowledge and experience

A fair job advertisement does not state discriminatory criteria irrelevant to the job such as age, gender, race, religion, marital status and family responsibilities or disability.

When crafting your job advertisement, ensure that job specifications listed are based on relevant qualifications, skills, knowledge and experience that are required to perform the job. Stating the job requirements clearly will increase the likelihood of a better candidate-match and reduce potential misunderstanding.

CHECK for words or phrases that could be perceived as discriminatory

Check to ensure that your job advertisements do not contain any words or phrases which could be perceived as discriminatory, such as gender, age, nationality and language.

Gender

  • "Female secretary", "Female working environment", "Strong guys needed" and "He will assist…", etc. are examples of unacceptable phrases as they either indicate or convey the impression that a particular gender is preferred. 
  • If there are practical reason(s) for listing gender as a requirement, state the reason clearly in the job advertisements (e.g. health spa requires female therapists to do personal body massage and spa treatments for its female customers).
  • Use gender-neutral titles or state "both genders may apply" for gender-centric job titles (e.g. waitress, nurse and steward).

Age

  • Age is not a good indication of candidate’s ability to perform the job. Avoid using age as a criterion unless there are regulatory requirements which should be stated upfront.
  • Avoid words or phrases such as "Minimum aged 21 and above", "Digital native" and "Young", etc.
  • Phrases such as "suitable for mature workers" are allowed as it supports the national efforts to enhance employment opportunities for mature workers.

Nationality

  • Avoid using nationality as a selection criterion, or using words or phrases that indicate a preference for non-Singaporeans (e.g. "Italian Chef", "EP/S Pass/WP/DP/LTSVP Holders preferred" and "Native English speaker preferred").
  • Ensure that all jobs advertised are open to Singaporeans.*

*Employers and employment agencies hiring on behalf of their clients are expected to make reasonable efforts to attract and consider Singaporeans for job positions on merit, and to train and develop their potential and careers. 

Language

Specifying proficiency in a particular language or including text in other languages in the job advertisement gives the impression that certain groups of individuals are preferred. To reduce ambiguity and avoid misunderstanding:

  • Avoid phrases such as "Know Hanyu Pin Yin" and "Able to speak Mandarin/Malay/Tamil".
  • State the job-related reason(s) if you need to specify language proficiency (e.g. Chinese-language teacher for pre-school centre, good credit in 'O'-Level Chinese required).
  • Ensure that the job advertisement is in the language of the advertisement media.

Note: You can now make use of MyCareersFuture to check for words or phrases that could be perceived as discriminatory. New features have been rolled out on the portal to strengthen progressive hiring practices amongst employers. Using social listening technology, the portal has the capability to review all job postings on the portal, and any potentially discriminatory terms or mentions are flagged to employers. Employers will be guided on how to improve their job postings to attract and find the most suitable candidate.

CONFRONT your blind spots

All of us have blind spots or unconscious bias that we bring to the workplace. The first step to confronting them is to recognise your bias. Examine why you need to specify certain requirements for the job and ask if they are indeed objective and relevant. Do not let your bias influence you in crafting your job advertisements.

Before publishing any advertisement, always check to ensure adherence to the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices. Visit tafep.sg for more information.

 

1 MRSD, MOM. Labour Force in Singapore 2019.   

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