Still a long way to go

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Still a long way to go

The author is a national news reporter of the JoongAng Ilbo.



Job seekers who wanted a career in the financial industry lost their opportunities because they were women. A Seoul South District Prosecutors’ Office’s investigation revealed that IBK Securities intentionally lowered the scores of female candidates in interviews in 2016 and 2017.

The company claimed men were better at sales. While it’s uncertain how it evaluated the performance of existing employees, it used the justification to fabricate the evaluation in the hiring process of new candidates. It’s suspected of violating the Act on Equal Employment for Both Sexes, which stipulates that employers shouldn’t discriminate based on gender in recruiting.

The prosecutors believe only three women were hired by the company in the past two years among 22 new employees selected from a one to 21 competition. There are 20 direct victims who scored high enough to be hired, but missed the opportunities because their scores were fabricated. While the trial hasn’t begun, four executives of the company — one of who is in custody — admitted to their wrongdoings in the investigation.

When an unfair event is caught, people would hope the incident would be publicized and prevent future occurrences. However, female job seekers are unlikely to expect recruiting would be fairer in the future.

While IBK fabricated the scores in its employment screening process, it’s very hard to prove companies’ unjust choices if some of them implicitly give disadvantages to women from the beginning of the application process. Women would grow more suspicious of discrimination — and men would refute their claims — which leads to a vicious cycle of gender discord.

In some companies, men may show a higher average performance than women. But it’s unjust to deprive women of opportunities to prove otherwise.

The solution is strict performance evaluation, reward and accountability systems. Even though the value of equality benefits the company, it may have resorted to vague prejudice when recruiting employees.

As a result, IBK and its customers suffered a loss for missing qualified female employees.

The incident shouldn’t remain a painful case for some women who missed the opportunity to secure a job at an established security firm, one of the industry’s top 10. As long as women fear they may suffer additional discrimination they don’t yet feel, social discord over gender equality cannot be easily treated. Korean society is already paying a high price for that.

JoongAng Ilbo, Jan. 30, Page 29
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