Chinese tech giants, government under fire for ‘men only’ job ads

Baidu has been named as among Chinese companies that deterred female applicants or objectified women, said Human Rights Watch in a report released on Monday. (Reuters)
Updated 24 April 2018
0

Chinese tech giants, government under fire for ‘men only’ job ads

  • The country’s #MeToo movement has been gaining momentum on university campuses since late last year
  • 19 percent of the Chinese civil service job adverts reviewed were “men only” or at least said men were preferred
0Top Chinese tech firms and some government departments have been singled out in a report that says discriminatory hiring practices based on gender are widespread in China and are linked to a shrinking proportion of women in the labor force.
Job ads posted by Alibaba Group Holding, Baidu and Tencent Holdings were among those that deterred female applicants or objectified women, said Human Rights Watch in a report released on Monday.
In many of the adverts, prospective employers boasted of “beautiful girls” at their workplace as a selling point for new employees, while others included specific height, appearance and temperament requirements for women that were unrelated to the roles.
“We have investigated these incidents and are making immediate changes. We are sorry they occurred and we will take swift action to ensure they do not happen again,” Tencent said in a statement.
An Alibaba spokeswoman said the company “will conduct stricter reviews of the recruiting advertisements to ensure compliance with our policy.”
A Baidu spokeswoman said the postings were “isolated instances.”
The report comes amid a larger Chinese movement against gender-based discrimination and harassment, buoyed by the global #MeToo movement, which has since been heavily censored online in the country.
The #MeToo movement began last year as victims of discrimination and sexual harassment took to social media to share their stories under the hashtag #MeToo. Silicon Valley firms have since been accused of discriminatory behavior, turning the focus on tech worldwide.
Human Rights Watch, which analyzed 36,000 Chinese job advertisements largely posted since 2013, also criticized adverts for government roles, construction workers and kindergarten teachers.
It said that so far in 2018, 19 percent of the Chinese civil service job adverts it reviewed were “men only” or at least said men were preferred. Only one job posting this year listed a preference for a female candidate, it said.
Reuters sent a fax seeking comment to the Ministry of Public Security, a bureau mentioned in the report, but did not receive a response.
Some firms looked to avoid scrutiny of their practices, including using code words to show a male preference, Human Rights Watch said. One used the Chinese word for south, “nan,” which in Chinese has the same pronunciation as the word for “man,” it said.
It added discriminatory hiring behavior was a key issue behind the relatively low numbers of women in the workforce and growing gender disparity over urban pay.
Chinese laws ban discrimination based on gender, but “enforcement is low and Chinese authorities rarely proactively investigate companies that repeatedly violate relevant laws,” Human Rights Watch said in the report.
The country’s #MeToo movement has, however, been gaining momentum on university campuses since late last year, and several schools have cut ties with professors amid claims of harassment and assault dating back decades.
The Human Rights Watch report received a muted response on Chinese social media on Tuesday, with almost no posts commenting on the issue on popular microblog platforms such as Alibaba-backed Weibo or Tencent’s mobile chat app WeChat.
Chinese social media firms are often required to censor civil rights discussions, including previous Human Rights Watch findings and posts related to the #MeToo movement.


Trump blocks Pelosi trip as tensions mount over US government shutdown

Updated 13 min 34 sec ago
0

Trump blocks Pelosi trip as tensions mount over US government shutdown

  • Trump has also canceled the US delegation’s trip to the annual international conference at Davos
  • The rising tension suggested that the shutdown, now in its 27th day, remains far from being resolved

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump’s conflict with Democrats over a partial US government shutdown escalated on Thursday with Trump denying House Speaker Nancy Pelosi use of military aircraft for an overseas trip in apparent retaliation for her suggestion that he delay the annual State of the Union address.
The rising tension suggested that the shutdown, now in its 27th day, remains far from being resolved.
In the meantime, the Trump administration continued to try to mitigate the shutdown’s impact. The State Department said it would call its furloughed employees back to work next week for national security reasons.
Pelosi had been scheduled to travel on a military aircraft as part of a congressional delegation to Belgium, where NATO is based, and Afghanistan to visit American troops stationed there.
In a letter to Pelosi denying her delegation the use of a plane, the Republican president called the trip an “excursion” but the Democrat’s spokesman said the trip to the Afghanistan war zone was for security and intelligence briefings.
“In light of the 800,000 great American workers not receiving pay, I am sure you would agree that postponing this public relations event is totally appropriate,” Trump wrote.
He told Pelosi she could make the trip by flying commercial.
Trump’s intervention stopped the trip just as Pelosi and other lawmakers were about to travel.
The president later canceled his own administration’s plans to attend the World Economic Forum conference in Davos, Switzerland. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had planned to attend after Trump canceled his own participation at Davos.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said that in forcing Pelosi not to travel on a US government jet, Trump had acted within his authority as commander in chief.
“He postponed her ability to use military air, which must be approved” by the Department of Defense, Sanders said.
A spokesman for Pelosi, Drew Hammill, said the trip to Brussels was intended “to affirm the United States’ ironclad commitment to the NATO alliance.”
The Afghanistan leg of the trip would have obtained “critical national security and intelligence briefings from those on the front lines,” Hammill said.
A House Democratic aide, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters that details of the trip were not supposed to be revealed for security reasons, as is customary. The White House, however, made the letter to Pelosi detailing the itinerary public.
A US defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Pelosi had requested and been granted Defense Department support for overseas travel, although the president has the authority to cancel Pelosi’s travel.
At the Capitol, members of the delegation had already boarded a bus bound for Joint Base Andrews just outside Washington, from which the plane was set to depart, when news of Trump’s decision broke.
It appeared to be a response to a letter Pelosi sent to Trump on Tuesday, suggesting he delay the annual State of the Union address to Congress, scheduled for Jan. 29, to some point after the government reopens.
Pelosi cited concerns over the capacity of the Department of Homeland Security and the Secret Service to safeguard the Capitol during the event. The agency later said it was capable of securing the venue.
Trump’s action drew criticism from one of his Republican allies in the Senate. “One sophomoric response does not deserve another,” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham wrote on Twitter.
He criticized Pelosi’s move on the State of the Union as “blatantly political” but said, “President Trump denying Speaker Pelosi military travel to visit our troops in Afghanistan, our allies in Egypt and NATO is also inappropriate.”
Democratic Representative Elaine Luria, a first-year lawmaker and a 20-year Navy veteran, had harsh words for Trump.
“The president’s comment that lawmakers visiting Afghanistan is a ‘public relations event’ is an insult to the brave men and women serving in harm’s way,” Luria said.
Also on Thursday, the State Department said it would recall its employees and take steps to pay them salaries — a departure from other agencies.
“As a national security agency, it is imperative that the Department of State carries out its mission,” Deputy Under Secretary of State Bill Todd said in a statement. “We are best positioned to do so with fully staffed embassies, consulates and domestic offices.”
Todd said the department’s employees would be paid on Feb. 14 for work performed beginning on or after this coming Sunday. The department would review its available funds and “legal authorities” beyond the upcoming pay period to try to cover future payments, he said.
About one quarter of federal agencies have been shuttered since Dec. 22, with Democratic lawmakers refusing to accede to Trump’s demands to pay for a wall along the US border with Mexico.
Trump is holding out for $5.7 billion for a border wall. Democrats, who took over the US House of Representatives this month, have rejected his demands, saying there are cheaper, more effective ways of enhancing border security.
Before leaving for the weekend, the House passed another bill that would fund the government through Feb. 28, but the vote was later vacated and held over until next week after a procedural objection from Republicans.
The Senate, however, has refused to bring any funding bill to the floor for a vote that Trump does not support.