We have all come across job advertisements that states a preference when it comes to race, gender, and sometimes, religion. According to the Malaysian Bar, the constitutional protection of rights and equality states that gender, race, religion, place of birth and such, are not allowed to be a factor of employment.
But, while it may not be as common as before, some employers do tend to hire people based on race and/or religion. Why, you ask? Read on to find out!
1. The Nature of Business
Despite the being frowned upon, there are valid reasons as to why a company may choose to hire their employees based on race or religion, and they have nothing to do with racism. The most obvious being the nature of business that may contradict with one's religious practices.
Take for example the food industry; restaurants that serve non-halal cuisines cannot, ethically speaking, hire a Muslim employee to work with them. Similarly, those who do not partake meat (vegetarians or vegans) don't usually opt to work in restaurants that serve meat. In situations like these, it's necessary for the employers to filter their employees before hiring.
In most cases, employers would state their nature of business clearly to the applicants during the hiring process. This prevents any misunderstanding and inconvenience on the part of both the applicant (in case they quit after finding the nature of the employee's business on the first day) and the employee (from having to find an emergency employee if the new one suddenly quits)
2. The Cost Factor
No, we're not referring to the salary rates. Quite the contrary, it has to do with the company's costs when running their business. Some businesses have to deal with customers directly, especially those that are in the cosmetic and health industry - think spas, salons, and even gyms.
These businesses usually cater to both men and women, and the nature of their business is such that the employers will need to attend to the customers in close proximity. Now, some religions forbid the touching of the opposite sex before marriage, which can complicate things for the employer because as a business, they need to serve the customers well in order to make profit. But, as an employer, it's also illegal (and unethical) for them to force their employees into doing something that's against their religion.
Of course, the employer can hire both female and male employees to neutralise this situation, but that would cost the company - especially if it's a small business - a lot of money as they'll need to hire 2 people to do what one person could do. Big companies and organisations certainly have no problems with hiring multiple employees, but there's only so many that small businesses can afford to hire.
3. The Company Culture
Some companies find it inconvenient to hire employees from other races or religions as it may disrupt the company's culture and cohesiveness as a team. A company that services a specific clientele (especially race specific or foreign clientele) would want its employees to be able to assimilate to the company's existing work culture.
To give you an idea on how it might look in real life scenarios, an export and import company that only deals with goods from China would most probably hire a Chinese employee who is able to speak the language and understand the client's cultural needs and values.
The same goes to companies that sell halal and Muslim goods - they would pick a Malay or a Muslim employee over the other races who are non-Muslim. The reason is simple, a Malay or a Muslim would understand and sell to the target market better. The point is, companies need employees who are able to 'fit in' to their existing work culture and be a team-player. Sometimes, race and religion play a role in helping employers decide whether or not you're a good fit for their company.
4. Unfortunate Stereotypes and Assumptions
Despite the Malaysian constitution and efforts in preventing racial discrimination, some people still fall into the stereotype trap as they believe that certain skills and values are only present in specific races.
Professional skills such as fluency in the English language, mathematics calculations, as well as work punctuality are deemed higher and more present among the Chinese compared to the Malays and Indians, despite this not being a proven fact.
There was even a study done to determine whether or not racial prejudice exist against the Malay graduates and job seekers, which you can find on the Vulcan Post.
It's really unfortunate, but racial prejudice does exist - although it's getting weaker and less noticeable with the current age of information and cultural diversity. What you can do to completely eliminate the racial prejudice is by proving them wrong! Show them you're a good candidate, be more open and confident during interviews, and most importantly, carry yourself with respect.
So, What's the Verdict?
Does your race really affect your chances at securing a job? Whether you like it or not, the answer is yes. But don't be alarmed, most companies have valid reasons as to why they have to hire employees based on race and even religion, as mentioned on our first three points. After all, they need to make sure that their employees are able to work together as a team in harmony.
Of course, not every company will look at your race or religion before hiring. What you can - and should do - when applying for a job is to research the company carefully before sending in your application. Make sure it's a company that offers a work environment that you can adapt to, and wow the interviewers by being proactive, confident, and open-minded.
If you want to increase your chances at being hired across industries, take up another skill such as learning Mandarin or a foreign language. Increase your value as a potential employee - remember, the more skills you have, the more desirable you are to the employers.
After securing your job, don't forget to secure your finances by building a healthy credit history too. The easiest way to do that is by applying for a credit card! If you're not sure which to choose, we've got your back. Simply visit our credit card comparison page and compare the best credit cards in the market!