Discrimination in Job Advertisements?

A young employee at the Matahari Department Store. All employees wear identical uniforms, and the hair is very neatly styled.

A young employee at the Matahari Department Store. All employees wear identical uniforms, and the hair is very neatly styled.

While scanning through a number of job advertisements pasted on windows outside of businesses, I was shocked to see the prerequisites for job openings. From the western viewpoint, the prerequisites are very discriminatory. When I asked Indonesians about it, they didn’t think it was discriminatory at all. They just said that if an employer wants the best person for the job, they should be able to be selective in whom they hire. This shows the vast difference between the Asian and western mindset.

Young Airline Stewardesses It's almost unheard of to see a person in a service oriented position over the age of 30.

Young Airline Stewardesses
It’s almost unheard of to see a person in a service job over the age of 30.

For the majority of jobs, employers in the USA are not allowed to select an employee based on a person’s religion, age; sex; body weight; body height; how good looking they may be; if they are married or not, etc. With the exception of a few unique jobs, employers in the US are not even allowed to ask those questions. In Indonesia, however, it’s common to see stipulations, like:

If Ugly…   You Need Not Apply!

Maybe not as blunt as that, but the implications are there.

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The obviousness of restrictions on age can be seen in many job positions. A person in their 30s or older, are rarely, if ever seen in any of the following positions:

  • Flight attendant
  • Airport security
  • Airport ticket agent
  • Hotel clerk
  • Cooks
  • Waitresses
    • Every Indonesian restaurant chain will have their waitresses dressed in identical uniforms and with identical facial make-up.
  • Department store clerks / shelf stocker
    • The appearance of the above mentioned employees are almost always immaculate, with extremely well-groomed hair and matching uniforms. Far different from what you would see in a US Wal-Mart, or any other department store in the USA.

      Another young worker at the Matahari Department Store.

      Another young worker at the Matahari Department Store.

Here is a list of what we saw listed as prerequisites on job advertisements:

  • Good looking
  • Friendly appearance
  • Female only (this was for clerks in most stores)
  • Male only
  • Male body weight minimum: 132 LB (this was for working on plantations)
  • Male height, minimum: 5’ 5” (this was also for working on plantations)
  • Female height, minimum: 5′ 2″ (this was for a store clerk)
  • Male height, minimum: 5′ 4″ (this was for a store clerk)
  • Unmarried (this was commonly seen on most advertisements)
    • Most employers seek single employees because if there is a wife or children the employee will frequently have reasons why they need to be at home, or they need to take their children to school, or they need to take their child to a doctor, etc., etc. Employers will then feel obligated to allow them to tend to family obligations. That is the Asian culture. To avoid those disruptions employers seek unmarried employees only.
  • Age limit: Maximum 25 years old.
    • Employers restrict the ages of their employees like this because they know that when they get much older the health issues will create many complications with their employee’s work schedule.
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