In light of the public flak received by a nursery group in the UAE that posted an online advertisement looking to recruit a teacher with “white skin”, UAE residents have been urged to report any discriminatory job listings they come across.
Speaking to Khaleej Times, Dr Omar Al Nuaimi, Assistant Undersecretary of the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation said job posts that “specify discriminatory preferences” strictly break UAE laws. And he warned that companies will be “punished” if they engage in such actions.
“Residents who come across these types of posts can report the issue directly to the Ministry if it is related to a private sector company registered in the UAE. They need to call 80060 and then we will take the appropriate action.”
Speaking about the recent case of the Happy Jump Nursery group, which posted – and subsequently removed – an online advertisement which stated it was seeking a number of English teachers of “European origin and white skin”, Dr Al Nuaimi said it has brought an issue to light.
“These actions are discriminatory on nationality, colour and it is not allowed by UAE or international law. Companies will be punished if they engage in these actions. We will take appropriate moves to address the issue in all such cases.”
Explaining the official process regarding how complaints of discrimination against private companies are dealt with by the Ministry, Dr Al Nuaimi said several steps are taken.
“When a general complaint against a company is made, like in this case of the nursery posting a discriminatory advertisement, the case is referred to the inspection department. The department then starts by warning the company about its actions and the Ministry staff thoroughly checks the nature of what instigated the complaint. If it concludes any deliberate wrongdoing, the case can be referred to the general prosecution; and only at the prosecution stage will the penalty be decided.”
Recruiters say clients to blame
The issue relating to applicant preferences in job advertisements is an all to common request by clients here, recruiters in the UAE have said.
Speaking to Khaleej Times, Louise Vine, Managing Director of Inspire Selection recruitment agency in Dubai said “95 per cent of the time, clients will specify nationality”.
“Our job as recruiters is difficult. We don’t discriminate, the clients do. When I first came here 10 years ago I was shocked at level of discrimination from clients submitting advertisements to recruiters and I tried to change it. But I quickly realised if you don’t pander to the needs and wants of the clients, you lose them.”
Nowadays, Vine said they have to “be careful about what language we use” to create job advertisements.
“To avoid using discriminatory terms we might put ‘has to be western/Arabic educated’ or ‘ability to travel freely between regions’. Some clients specifically tell us they don’t want certain nationalities to be put forward for a position. We even get some companies saying they don’t want female applicants put forward because if children get sick they won’t come to work. It’s a tough task balancing the wants of the client and the guidelines of the UAE discrimination and hatred law.”
A representative at Intelligent Partners (a teacher recruitment agency), said to avoid using discriminatory language when posting for certain positions, they simply “alter the content”.
“We generally make use of word ‘native’ if looking for certain specifications, it’s a word which doesn’t tend to offend others.”
And one recruiter, who asked not to reveal her company name as she was not an official spokesperson, said it is “not uncommon” for clients to send adverts “littered with discriminatory preferences”.
“We get it a lot, even since the law came in. We as recruiters have to alter the content to make them more politically correct. But there is a flip side. Because clients are paying for our services, they want to make sure they get the right candidate that fits, and sometimes that means having to be specific about certain things in order to make the new recruit adapt well with the office culture.”