foobar on computers, software and the rest of the world


Fair hiring practices

, posted: 8-Jul-2008 07:07

Some researchers compared the hiring practices of various international companies and came to the conclusion that the practices of US companies are the fairest, even when hiring for their branches and offices outside of the US. Specifically, they noted:
Only about 10 percent of ads placed by U.S.-based companies contained gender discrimination, compared with 24 percent for European-based firms and 47 percent for Asian corporations.

Age discrimination [appeared] in 12 percent of hiring ads published by American-based companies, 30 percent by European-based corporations and more than 50 percent by Asian firms.
Having worked in the US for quite some years myself, I can confirm this. US firms are extremely careful not to appear in any way at all biased when it comes to making hiring decisions. No discrimination of any kind based on gender, age, race or believes, and thus no such questions will be asked of the applicant. In fact, they often don't want to know this information at all, even if you volunteer it, since it could remove the possibility of plausible deniability for them.

In some European countries it is normal to write birthdate, gender and other information on your CV. If you send that to a US company they are downright horrified, lest you could claim to be rejected based on some of this personal information they had about you. The fear of lawsuits had a positive effect for once, even if it can be taken to an extreme such as not even being allowed to ask the applicant's gender.

After I had worked in the US for a while, I was surprised to watch my boss back here in New Zealand ask new applicants questions that no hiring manager in the US would ever even dare to ask. So, the differences are certainly real.

As always and as it is in all countries, laws against discrimination don't guarantee that it doesn't happen, of course. If a hiring manager doesn't like a candidate for subjective reasons, they can always find some officially acceptable excuse for the rejection.

Nevertheless, in my experience, having strict rules about this laid out in clearly phrased laws helps to at least set the right tone, prevents pre-filtering of CVs and keeps the topic of merit-based hiring in people's mind.


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Comment by KevDaly, on 9-Jul-2008 13:26

I've become convinced that the worst discrimination in hiring in NZ, particularly in IT, is now related to age.

Of course that could be because I'm 47, so I naturally tend to notice it.

But whatever, it is definitely the case that too many hiring managers (and agents) have bought into ridiculous pop culture ideas about who develops software, and are unwilling to hire anyone over 12.


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New Zealand


  • Who I am: Software developer and consultant.
  • What I do: System level programming, Linux/Unix. C, C++, Java, Python, and a long time ago even Assembler.
  • What I like: I'm a big fan of free and open source software. I'm Windows-free, running Ubuntu on my laptop. To a somewhat lesser degree, I also follow the SaaS industry.
  • Where I have been: Here and there, all over the place.




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