International Women’s Day (8 March)

Ending gender discrimination in recruitment and work environment will promote business success

New study by the ILO in co-operation with Navigos Search shows one in five job postings includes gender requirement with male applicants preferred for more skilled and better paid jobs while better equality is recorded in promotion practices.

Press release | 05 March 2015
HANOI (ILO News) – Gender-based discrimination remains common in recruitment practices in Viet Nam’s private sector whereas a fairer degree of gender equality is recorded in working environment and promotion opportunities.

These are the main findings from a new policy brief entitled “Gender equality in recruitment and promotion practices in Viet Nam” which comes from the latest study conducted by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in co-operation with Navigos Search.

One in five out of 12,300 job postings in the country’s four largest job portals – Vietnamworks, JobStreet, CareerBuilder and CareerLink – between mid-November 2014 and mid-January 2015 included gender requirements.

Among such job advertisements with gender preference, 70 per cent requested that the positions be filled by men whereas only 30 per cent wanted female applicants.

Men were most often targeted for more technical and highly skilled jobs or jobs that require more outdoor activities, such as architects, drivers, engineers and IT professionals.

Meanwhile, women were often preferred for office and support work, such as receptionists, secretaries, accountants, human resources and general affairs.

“Job advertisements should avoid any mention of gender as this represents a direct form of gender-based discrimination, and such “glass walls” will result in gender segregation by occupation and job functions,” said ILO Viet Nam Director Gyorgy Sziraczki. “This will limit the ability of businesses to fully benefit from the talent of newly recruited employees.”

By advertising gender preference, women’s and even men’s access to certain types of jobs is restricted, thereby depriving them of important opportunities in the labour market.

“The majority of occupations where male workers are preferred are higher-skilled and better paid than most of those for women,” said Nguyen Thi Van Anh, Managing Director of Navigos Search.

Gender segregation along the career ladder within an occupation was also shown by the job advertisements for managerial positions. Up to 83 per cent of management job postings with gender preference required male applicants. Significantly, all of the director posts were exclusively for men.

As part of the study, a survey with employers in the private sector in January 2015 revealed that apart from academic qualifications and work experience – the two most important factors in recruiting decisions, two thirds of employers ask questions about the applicants’ availability to work outside of normal working hours. Up to 43 per cent of employers also seek to discover applicants’ marital status and 30 per cent tried to find out their future plans to have children.

However, another survey with candidates for mid-career posts showed that far more female candidates were asked about their future childbearing plans and family responsibilities than men.

According to Navigos Search Managing Director, the perception that women, not men, bear the main responsibilities for housework, childcare and the care of other dependents, is an important factor in hiring decisions.

However, once landing in their job, the majority of candidates for senior positions, who are typically at least 28 of age and in their mid-career, did not see gender-based discrimination in the working environment and promotion opportunities.

The study found a fair degree of equal salary increase for women (with only 8 per cent of female interviewees reporting to be refused a pay rise because of their gender), reinforcing the fact that gender wage gap is relatively small in Viet Nam. The gap is 9.4 per cent in the 2013 Viet Nam Labour Force Survey, compare to 4 to 36 per cent less in women’s averages wages against men’s globally.

Two thirds of the mid-career candidates also believed that women and men have an equal chance of being promoted in their company.

However, the study still saw room for improvement.

Only 60 per cent of the employers interviewed count maternity leave period as part of the length of service as required by the laws. With the length of service being the second most important factor when employers make promotion decisions, this represents a significant disadvantage for women to progress in their careers.

“Creating a gender-sensitive business environment that promotes work-life balance must be a priority. This would benefit workers, companies and the society as a whole – a mutual gain to everyone,” said the ILO Viet Nam Director.

Some recommendations from the policy brief included putting in place specific regulations to prohibit gender-based discrimination practices, such as advertising gender preference in job postings; improving law enforcement; raising awareness on the social and economic benefits of gender equality to break long-standing stereotypes; and allowing flexible arrangements for employees to manage work and family time commitments in line with labour laws.

For more information, please contact:

Tran Quynh Hoa (Ms)
Communications officer
ILO Country Office for Viet Nam
48-50 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, Hanoi
Tel: (84-4) 37340907 Ext.218
Mobile: (84) 904 409 787

Duong Thuy Quynh (Ms)
Senior PR & Marketing Manager
Navigos Search Vietnam
6F V-Building, 125-127 Ba Trieu Street, Hanoi
Phone: (84-4) 39743033