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Gender discrimination more common in recruitment than promotion

Released at: 10:23, 07/03/2015

Gender discrimination more common in recruitment than promotion

ILO - Navigos Search study identifies varying degrees of gender discrimination in employment.

by Hoang Thu

Gender-based discrimination remains common in recruitment practices in Vietnam’s private sector, whereas a fairer degree of gender equality is recorded in the working environment and promotion opportunities.

These were the main findings of a new policy brief entitled “Gender equality in recruitment and promotion practices in Vietnam”, which comes from the latest study conducted by the International Labor Organization (ILO) in co-operation with Navigos Search.

One in five out of 12,300 job postings in the country’s four largest job portals - Vietnamworks, JobStreet, CareerBuilder and CareerLink - between mid-November 2014 and mid-January 2015 included gender requirements.

Among such job advertisements with gender preferences, 70 per cent said the position would be filled by a man whereas only 30 per cent sought female applicants.

Men were most often targeted for more technical and highly-skilled jobs or jobs that require more outdoor tasks, such as architects, drivers, engineers, and IT professionals.

Meanwhile, women were often preferred for office and support work, such as receptionists, secretaries, accountants, human resources staff and general affairs positions.

Source: ILO &Navigos Search

“Job advertisements should avoid any mention of gender as this represents a direct form of gender-based discrimination, and such ‘glass walls’ will result in gender segregation by occupation and job function,” said ILO Vienam Director Gyorgy Sziraczki. “This will limit the ability of businesses to fully benefit from the talent of newly-recruited employers.”

By advertising gender preference, women’s and even men’s access to certain types of jobs is restricted, thereby depriving them of important opportunities in the labor market.

“The majority of occupations where male workers are preferred are higher-skilled and better paid than most of those for women,” said Ms. Nguyen Thi Van Anh, Managing Director of Navigos Search.

Source: ILO &Navigos Search

Gender segregation along the career ladder within an occupation was also shown in job advertisements for managerial positions. Up to 83 per cent of management job postings with gender preferences sought male applicants. Significantly, all of the director posts were exclusively for men.

As part of the study, a survey of employers in the private sector in January 2015 revealed that apart from academic qualifications and work experience - the two most important factors in recruiting decisions - two-thirds of employers ask questions about the applicants’ availability to work outside of normal working hours. Up to 43 per cent of employers also seek to determine applicants’ marital status and 30 per cent tried to identity any future plans to have children.

However, another survey of candidates in mid-career posts showed that far more female candidates were asked about their future childbearing plans and family responsibilities than men.

According to Ms. Van Anh, the perception that women, not men, bear the main responsibility for housework, childcare, and the care of other dependents is an important factor in hiring decisions.

However, once landing a job the majority of candidates for senior positions, who are typically at least 28 years of age and in mid-career, do not see gender-based discrimination in the working environment and in promotion opportunities.

The study found a fair degree of equal salary increases for women (with only 8 per cent of female interviewees reporting they were refused a pay rise because of their gender), reinforcing the fact that the gender wage gap is relatively small in Vietnam. The gap was 9.4 per cent in the 2013 Vietnam Labour Force Survey, compared to 4 to 36 per cent globally.

Two thirds of mid-career candidates believe that women and men have an equal chance of being promoted at their company.

However, the study still noted room for improvement.

Only 60 per cent of employers interviewed count maternity leave as part of the length of service, which is required by law. With the length of service being the second most important factor when employers make promotion decisions, this represents a significant disadvantage for women to progress in their careers.

“Creating a gender-sensitive business environment that promotes work-life balance must be a priority,” said Mr. Sziraczki. “This will benefit workers, companies and society as a whole; a mutual gain for everyone.”

Recommendations from the policy brief include putting in place specific regulations to prohibit gender-based discrimination practices, such as advertising gender preferences in job postings; improving law enforcement; raising awareness about the social and economic benefits of gender equality to break long-standing stereotypes; and allowing flexible arrangements for employees to manage work and family commitments in line with labor laws.

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