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An unpalatable job advertisement

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An unpalatable job advertisement“Asia Pacific Editor to support the Global Head of Editorial in developing and implementing clear and consistent editorial messaging to ensure widespread external understanding of our story, its strategy, strengths and objectives.”

The header of this job advertisement from an MNC attracted the attention of V. Mohan, 32, who had five years of experience as an editor with a reputable publishing firm in Singapore. He was looking to further his career.

To his disappointment, one of the stated requirements was for a “native English speaker” with first-rate English writing and editing skills.

Mohan contacted TAFEP to lodge a complaint as he felt that the job advertisement was discriminatory against Singaporeans who were not native English speakers but may be highly proficient in English. After gathering more details, we contacted the company.

The employer, who is one of our Pledge Signers clarified that they took pride in being an equal opportunity employer. They had no intention to discriminate against non-native English speakers and explained that the incumbent editor was in fact a native Singaporean. They were merely seeking to recruit someone who was highly proficient in English.

We advised the company on the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices and explained the importance of using objective and relevant criteria in their job specifications. If a job entails proficiency in a particular language (this includes native language proficiency), employers should justify the need for the requirement. This is to help reduce ambiguity and minimise incidences of misunderstanding between job seekers and the employer.

After our outreach, the company revised its job advertisement specification to “A high level of English language competency is required”. The employer also alerted the officers involved in recruitment and conducted a “Lunch and Learn” session to create awareness of our Guidelines.

Mohan was happy to know of the employer’s revision to their job specification.