Watch out for gender stereotypes in ads, recruiters warned

Recruiters have been warned to be extra cautious when designing new job adverts in light of a new rule aimed at tackling gender stereotypes in advertising.

Last week the Advertising Standards Authority released new guidance related to a new rule on gender stereotypes, which will come into force on 14 June 2019.

The move follows a new rule set out by Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP), which states marketing communications must not include gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence.

Commenting on what the new rule means for recruitment agencies, Joanna Parry, solicitor at Tozers Solicitors, told Recruiter that although agencies should already not contravene discrimination laws when placing job adverts, but they should also now give careful thought, particularly when using photos or images, to ensure that there is no use of harmful stereotypes.

Echoing those sentiments, Jahad Rahman, partner at Rahman Lowe Solicitors, told Recruiter: “Making stereotypical assumptions within the workplace can be unlawful and in breach of anti-discrimination laws. For example, assuming that the role of a secretary or PA can only be performed by female workers or that a graduate trainee scheme can only be performed by young and dynamic graduates would potentially be discriminatory on the grounds of age. 

“Recruiters should therefore ensure that they have polices in place for recruitment and that job advertisements do not indicate a preference for a particular group, unless there is a genuine occupational requirement.”

Meanwhile Christopher Tutton, partner at law firm Constantine Law, told Recruiter to stay on the right side of the law recruiters are going to need to consider each advertisement carefully and take account of the ASA guidelines. 

“The basic requirement is that the advertisement should not feature people carrying out gender-stereotypical roles or behaviours. The ASA gives the example of a role requiring assertiveness being portrayed in a way which suggests only a male candidate would be appropriate for the role. In a sense this reflects existing best practice under anti-discrimination laws, under which employers should be careful not to indirectly discriminate against applicants when advertising roles. The ASA rules go further than discrimination law in one sense, however, as anyone can complain about an advert breaching the ASA rules, whether or not they intended to apply for the role in question.”

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