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Discrimination in employment amid high rate of youth unemployment and migration

4-4-2014

The daily star newspaper published a report last week on the various types of discrimination that job seekers face on job search websites and during interviews, in addition to presenting discrimination testimonies from job seekers, recruiters and placement officers.
Hilal Khashan, a political science professor at the American University of Beirut, recalls his job seeking days back in 1984, and how he was turned out by some companies due to his religion or more particularly, sect. Khashan says that nothing has changed much in Lebanon since that date, in terms of ensuring equal opportunities for all sects and genders during the employment process. He added that although many other countries with a similar level of education have laws in place to protect women and minorities from such discrimination, the closest thing Lebanon has to legislation that prevents job discrimination is a draft law protecting identity privacy that has been awaiting further action for seven years.
For her part, Layal Nehme Matar, a placement officer at Notre Dame University in Louaize, says that some vacancies seeks male candidates, pointing to employers that request men for largely outdoor work such as civil engineering, or others that prefer their companies’ marketing staff to be female, which she suggests may be because of women’s perceived communication and organizational skills. But Matar admits that part of the reason people ask for women may be that they are often willing to work at lower salaries than men for the same work.
The report goes one to highlight discrimination identified in job search websites, pointing out to one listing on the AUB’s job site targeting alumni and students, which was recruiting for a customer service position in Shoueifat and specifying “female candidates only for logistic reasons.” In addition, one personal email from a CEO to a job recruitment agency, seen by The Daily Star, announced that the related company was looking for a candidate who “is Shiite and who lives in Da7hiyeh”. Another form of discrimination was noted in the case of Noor (25 years old), who was accepted for an interview for an internship post at a five-star hotel in Beirut, but was subsequently turned away, before the interview, because she wears a hijab.
Finally, the report also points out to the widespread reliance on “Wasta” (connections and nepotism) for entering into the job market, which in addition to discrimination, results in fuelling the frustration of many well-qualified jobless, and in pushing them to emigrate, instead of trying to confront the system. Commenting on the preceding, Jaad Chaaban, an assistant professor of economics at AUB told the newspaper that the public sector in Lebanon is the largest venue for discrimination in employment, followed by small family businesses, whereas the best equal opportunity employers are multinational companies, non-governmental organizations, and the growing IT sector, the latter is seeking young people of all social backgrounds.
Source: The Daily Star 29 March 2014

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