It's 2019, so you would think that everyone knows that companies cannot make hiring decisions based on race or sex, but it's also 2019 so the whole world has gone crazy. So, I wasn't entirely shocked when a friend sent me this job posting at Ashburn, Virginia-based recruiting firm Cynet Systems:

Note, under job description, it says "preferably Caucasian." There is no way this is a legal request. Whether it came from the client (unnamed) or was put in by Cynet, it doesn't matter. Another job listing asked for "female candidate only." Cynet Systems is listed on the 2018 Inc. 5000, Inc.'s list of the fastest-growing, private companies in the U.S.

Now, there are situations when you can hire by gender under what's called a Bona Fide Occupational Qualification (BFOQ). These are situations where sex matters--for instance you can recruit only women to play female roles in a play or hire only men to help elder men shower in a nursing home. A sales role, as described above, is extremely unlikely to meet the strict qualifications for a BFOQ. 

In fact, I can't think of a single way you could twist a sales job to be single gender. 

I took these screenshots Sunday afternoon and Cynet Systems posted this after 10 p.m. EST on a Sunday, and the job postings were scrubbed around the same time. I spoke with a company spokesman who said both of these mistakes were made by the same employee who was new, and that Cynet is an equal opportunity employer and this does not reflect their values. A post on Twitter further revealed how the company responded internally:

Terminating the person responsible makes sense as blatant discrimination in job descriptions not only threatens the business but indicates that the person responsible had no idea of basic employment law. It also (as we can tell) opens up the business to public criticism. The internet never forgets. 

Cynet Systems recruits for many businesses and anyone who has done contract recruiting can tell stories of clients who want you to hire illegally. The answer is always no. Yes, you may lose a client over it, but the answer should always be no. The best person for the job, regardless of race, gender, age, and any other variable you want to throw in there.  

Published on: Apr 29, 2019
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