Sexist job ad cooks up a fuss

Sexist job ad cooks up a fuss

4 March 2014

A New Zealand restaurant chain landed in hot water last week after posting a job advertisement that explicitly called for “girls only”.

According to the New Zealand Herald, one of the chain’s branches attached the advertisement to its main entrance, but it was soon forced to remove it after several people complained about discrimination. The ad offered part-time work exclusively for girls.

Employment law experts condemned the ad as a breach of the Human Rights Act, but the restaurant’s manager defended his branch, claiming he was only seeking a more diversified workforce. He pointed out that he already employs five male staff members, and the ad was only looking to replace three female employees who had recently left.

However, his further defence that females “make better sales people” is unlikely to appease anyone, and only highlights the discriminatory nature of the advertisement.

This came in the same week that a popular bar posted a job advertisement for “female bar & floor staff” that it later described as simply “tongue in cheek.”

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Despite the attempted justification later put forward by those responsible for these advertisements, the cases serve to highlight that at ground level, gender equality and discrimination is still not understood by many employers. The fact that simply offering gender exclusive roles is seen in these cases as the way to encourage participation and address gender imbalance in workplaces, is worrying.

Clearly, Australian employers should be aware of their obligations under relevant legislation such as the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 and the Fair Work Act 2009, however there is far more to the issue of equal participation for women and men in the workforce.

Recent debate around reporting on gender balance in workplaces with more than 100 employees, and the changes the government is currently considering to the gender reporting requirements, has highlighted the gender imbalances that continues to occur in the Australian workforce and raises questions around how best to address these.

Any organisation that has concerns about diversity and discrimination; including meeting legislative requirements, lawful recruitment practices and dealing with suspected cultural issues, can contact an HR support services provider for advice and assistance.

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