Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 June 2019

Dozens of discriminatory job ads still appearing online in the UAE

A recent example sought a candidate who is 'bold and beautiful' with 'a charming face with attractive looks'

Some companies are still posting job adverts featuring discriminatory requirements, despite a labour ministry warning that it will take action. Sarah Dea / The National
Some companies are still posting job adverts featuring discriminatory requirements, despite a labour ministry warning that it will take action. Sarah Dea / The National

Dozens of adverts that discriminate against job seekers based on their age, gender, nationality or even their appearance continue to appear online, despite government warnings that it will take action against those who post them.

In September last year, the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation condemned adverts that excluded job seekers based on factors that have no bearing on their ability to do the job.

But the adverts still appear, with UAE digital job boards full of examples of posts that call for “Filipina nationals only” or “western candidates”.

One recent example described ideal candidate's physical appearance for an executive secretary position in Dubai.

Prejudicial discrimination has no place in the conditions of employment, nor in wider UAE society

Dr Omar Al Nuaimi, Assistant Undersecretary at the labour ministry

The job description, posted on the jobs site indeed.ae, stated that the candidate should be “bold and beautiful” with a “good height of at least 5 foot-plus” and have a “charming face with attractive looks”.

Communication and computer skills, along with “excellent English” are also important, according to the advert.

The ideal candidate should also be “ready for round the clock operation as and when required” and “ready for travel in the UAE and abroad”.

The advert, which was highlighted on the British Expats Dubai – Jobs Facebook page last month and is no longer active, was heavily criticised in a discussion on the Facebook group.

“I’m sincerely hoping this is not a serious job posting,” wrote one member.

“It is! Job hunting sucks!” replied the member who posted it to the group.

A recent job ad posted online.
A recent job ad posted online.

Five months ago, in response to reports that a UAE nursery group was advertising for an English teacher of “European origin and white skin”, Assistant Undersecretary of the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation Dr Omar Al Nuaimi told The National that “prejudicial discrimination has no place in the conditions of employment, nor in wider UAE society".

“Where instances of discrimination come to light, UAE government agencies take collective action to prevent any further such abuses," he said.

Toby Simpson, a former managing director at a recruitment company with 11 years’ experience in the UAE, said the recent advert displayed subjective standards that may be logically applied by a modelling agency, but would have no real practical application in a workplace.

He said it may reasonably be termed as offensive and unnecessarily discriminatory.

“It would be acceptable to require someone front of house to be ‘presentable,’ but no more.”

Likewise, he said, someone advertising for an Indian chef would be better served seeking someone trained in Indian cuisine, and a company seeking individuals over the age of 40 should instead ask for five years’ experience in a managerial capacity.

Gender, cultural and age-based stereotypes are rife in the minds of many in the UAE, said Mr Simpson. And while some of them contain “small elements of practicality,” they can never be absolute, so make very poor requirements from a commercial point of view when hiring.

“There is a liberal hysteria in the West where simply discussing any taboo subject would have a lot of shouty people label you something that ends with ‘ist,’ and I would discourage that level of censorship," he said.

"But people must learn to think more inclusively and openly about what their business objectives actually are before simply applying discriminatory factors that would not serve them well.”

Updated: February 20, 2019 10:44 AM

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