Anyone who has looked for a job in Argentina knows that discrimination is rampant in the labor market. Companies across the board engage in all kinds of gender, age, and aesthetic discrimination. Many employers discriminate against candidates based on their marital or parental status. Classified ads typically contain qualifiers such as this: ”Attractive Female Age 18-28″ or “Sales Associate, Good Looking, Up To 35 Years.”
In rare cases, such discrimination can be justified and is even desirable. If an advertising agency needs to shoot a commercial, it can and should be able to cast actors or models “who fit the part.” Meanwhile, an airline, for very good reasons, can discriminate against pilots who don't qualify physically or mentally for the job. Would you want a blind man flying your plane? Would you want a woman with shaky hands operating on your frontal lobe?
Clearly, discrimination is necessary in some cases.
But in most cases broad-based discrimination is neither necessary nor justifiable. An average-looking but capable 84-year-old surely is just as qualified to work at a bookstore as is an attractive 24-year-old university student. Do all three of the receptionists in my office building really need to be atractive and in their mid-twenties?
Argentines typically apply for jobs by submitting resumes that include a photo and other personal information like their date of birth and marital status. Why? Including a photo seems like an open invitation to potential discrimination. (“Ooh, that one's rat ugly, dude. I'm not interviewin' her.”) The same is true of age and marital status. Here's a classified ad being run now on the newspaper Clarin's site:
CADETA / ADMINISTRATIVA P/COOP DE CREDITO en Cap Fed Sexo: femenino. 25 a 35 años. Excel presencia y disp.horaria. C/ exper en trámites bancarios y ma- nejo de PC. Con refer y viva en Capital. Enviar CV c/foto y pret a: firstname.lastname@example.org
Here the employer, some kind of credit cooperative, is looking for a “female, aged 25-35 with excellent presence.” In this ad alone, the employer is engaging in age, gender and aesthetic descrmination. Is it necessary? Hardly. The job is for an administrative assistant, someone who can do paperwork, cut through red tape, answer the phone, and run other banking errands. Could a 36-year-old male do this? Of course. How about an ugly, zit-faced, fatso? Surely.
On Thursday, the National Institute Against Discrimination, Exenphobia, and Racisim ( INADI) decided to do something to about all of this. The institute's president, María José Lubertino, held a press conference at the Interior Ministry to highlight these problems and call on the country to “respect equality under the law and the principle of non-descrimination in the labor market.”
Lubertino presented the results of an INADI study that confirmed the prevelance of job market discrimination. According to the study, which looked at 3,668 classified ads, around 54% of the ads descriminated against candidates based on gender. Another 22% descriminated by age. “Those most affected are people who are over 40,” according to INADI. That means 76% of advertised job openings are available only to people who are just the right age and gender.
INADI put out a statement saying the following:
“In light of the study, the institute will present recommendations aimed at ensuring that job offers don't include preferences for gender, age, appearence, nationality, residency, social condition, marital status or any other type of condition that may be unreasonable…”
Let's hope INADI's work doesn't fall upon deaf ears.
Oh, and by the way, you can see Lubertino's resume online at INADI's website. It includes her photo and date of birth.