Shenzhen Securities Exchange accused of age discrimination

The Shenzhen Securities Exchange is under fire from an anti-discrimination group in the city after it posted a recruitment advertisement for management, legal, accounting and computing professionals that stipulated applicants should be under 28-years-old.

The Hengping Centre, a non-governmental organization that campaigns against discrimination, sent a letter to the Exchange pointing that it was illegal to discriminate against job applicants on the basis of age.

The centre was alerted to the recruitment advertisement by a Hong Kong professional, known as Miss Wang. “In the past, I have only seen job ads asking for relevant work experience, it was a bit of shock to discover that having experience was not acceptable,” Miss Wang was quoted as saying.

When questioned by the media, a spokesperson for the Exchange claimed that the recruitment advertisement did not contain an age limit but merely took into consideration the need to “rationalize the company’s age structure” (公司年龄结构合理化的考虑).

Age discrimination has been so widespread in the Chinese workplace for so long that most people accept it as a fact of working life. This resigned attitude is beginning to change thanks to the work of organizations like Hengping. However, it still took a complaint from someone in Hong Kong to bring this latest case into the open.

In May 2010, Hengping published a survey of recruitment advertisements from 1,560 employers in Shenzhen, which showed that nearly 60 percent of employers actively discriminated against prospective employees on the basis of age, gender, health, appearance or residency. Nearly 38 percent of recruitment ads specified age limits.

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