Chinese company criticized for sexist job ad asking only men to apply

Society & Culture

Hengli Group, an industrial conglomerate that is one of China's largest private sector companies, has been slammed for posting a recruitment notice asking for only male candidates to apply.

sexist job post

Hengli Group, an industrial conglomerate that is one of China’s largest private sector companies, has been slammed for posting a recruitment notice asking for only male candidates to apply.

Posting to its official WeChat account, the company wrote that it was specifically looking for “male candidates between 28 and 40 years old” to fill five driver positions that pay 4,000 yuan ($617) and offer four rest days a month.

The post was quickly met with accusations of sexism. When speaking to Sixth Tone, a woman surnamed Jia, who volunteered at Workplace Gender Discrimination Watchdog, an online community tracking workplace discrimination in China, said that she immediately filed a complaint with the Guizhou chapter of the All-China Women’s Federation after discovering the ad. 

Jia noted that the organization, which is tasked with protecting women’s interests, rarely responded to the collective’s complaints in the past. But to her pleasant surprise, this time, the federation gave prompt and serious attention to the matter.

In a statement on January 21, the federation wrote that it had demanded Hengli Group delete its preference to hire men in the job post on grounds of gender discrimination. “In the wake of the matter, we want to say that we are thankful for all the support and trust from internet users,” the statement said. “We will continue to fulfill our role as Chinese women’s family members and help them exercise their legal rights.”

According to Chinese law, employers must ensure gender equality in hiring. In 2019, China issued a notice stipulating that companies engaging in gender discrimination in recruitment ads could face fines of up to 50,000 yuan ($7,713). 

But the policies are not enforced. In fact, the government itself is an enabler of sexist hiring practices: Human Rights Watch, a New York-based watchdog group, found that in the Chinese government’s 2020 national civil service job list, 11 percent of the postings specify a preference or requirement for men.