Discrimination in the labor market

The right skills, the needed experience and a personality that fits a company’s DNA as a glove. That should be enough to get the job you desire, right? One would think so, but unfortunately, that doesn’t always seem to be the case. Employers still often reject candidates solely on the basis of a photo, name, age or sexuality. Sadly, discrimination in the labor market is even in this day and age a daily occurrence. 

It is a subject that has been talked about a lot in the past few years, the unfair treatment of marginalized groups in the labor market. It’s been a hot topic on TV, in the government and there are plenty of campaigns to draw awareness for this kind of discrimination. However, the discrimination of applicants remains high. Between 2005 and 2020, there was no decline in its prevalence according to research of Louis Lippens (UGent).

You would think that with a shortage in the labor market, employers have stopped judging people on other things than their skills and experience (also if it would be for the wrong reasons). But it seems that companies have not been any less picky. Some features on a curriculum can still make it less likely for a candidate to get invited for an interview. In this article, we aim to raise awareness of inequality and unfair recruitment processes by highlighting the four unlucky communities that still face discrimination during the hiring process. With this, we hope to promote a human-centric approach to hiring.

Discrimination in the labor market

Never too old for anything

The group that experiences the most discrimination in the labor market in the Netherlands are seniors of 50 years and older. Specifically, they are 34 percent less likely to get an interview after sending their application. 

Even though age is not supposed to be named in a job vacancy and one cannot be refused ny law just because of their age, employers seem to do the exact opposite in practice. Rejecting people because they are ‘too old’. Thinking a candidate in this age range is more expensive and cannot offer the flexibility needed for the job. This is often far from the truth. You are never too old for anything, right?

Name over skills

Additionally, individuals with a migration background encounter additional obstacles during the job application and search process. Particularly, those with a non-western background often face judgements based on their name or photo throughout the application process.

Research of the University of Amsterdam points out that people with a non-Western background were 20% less likely to get a reply on their application letter. It seems that even though awareness campaigns have helped to reduce discrimination in the labor market on the one hand, the migration crisis of 2015 did the exact opposite. The Covid pandemic has made the situation even worse. Many immigrants had a flexible contract, which made them lose their jobs. Sadly, now they find themselves in a position where it seems even harder to get one.

Judged on a physical disability

You would think that someone with a physical disability is just as good at doing, for example, an office job as everyone else. Especially with the right adjustments made to the office space. 

Sadly, when an employer has the choice between two candidates with the same capacities, the person with a physical disability is often the one that gets rejected. Ridiculous, you’re right. Companies don’t want to make the adjustments needed, and extra services sometimes take a lot of time. Then to think that it’s written by law that someone with a disability has the same right to participate in society just like anyone else, so also when it comes to working.

The LHBTQ+ community

We all know the LHBTQ+ community faces a number of challenges every day. Finding a job and getting unequal treatment on the work floor, just to name a few. And to what purpose? We are all human, gender identity or sexuality doesn’t change anything about the skills and capacities one has. Some employers don’t think that way though. For example, saying you are gay or lesbian can influence the chances of getting a job drastically. 

Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there. Non-binary people and transgenders often are forbidden to speak openly about their gender identity within the office space or a company. When they do, at times they are not allowed to speak to clients anymore or are forced into another position within the organization. The numbers on this are not very clear, because often the LHBTQ+ community doesn’t feel comfortable addressing the discrimination to a superior. But that still exists, is the sad reality.

With us, you can be who you want to be

Discrimination in the labor market is not legal, yet a persistent practice that happens daily. The reason could be that there is not enough supervision and no penalties or fines are given to companies that are guilty of discrimination. A quota might improve diversity on the work floor, forcing companies to hire more people from all the discriminated groups named above. But that is not enough, since it doesn’t guarantee inclusion. 

If everyone could just look past age, sexuality or any other feature that has nothing to do with anyone’s skills or capacities, the labor market would become a better and equal place. But it all starts with ourselves, that’s why at Search X we don’t look at your name, your gender or your age. We look at the person, we want to find out who you are and what your goals are in life without any judgment. When applying for jobs, do you encounter discrimination at every turn? We are prepared to assist. Do you value a human-centric search when looking for a professional? Give us a call. 


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