Dong-A's ad gets all the wrong kind of reactionThree days before International Women's Day, a Korean pharmaceutical company has attracted the ire of online commentators with allegations of sexism in its recruitment practices, which were posted in response to a video featuring the company's menstrual products on YouTube.
Dong-A Pharmaceutical on Friday posted a video from the popular YouTube channel Nego-wang (“King of Negotiating”), in which trot singer and presenter Jang Yeong-ran seeks out the company’s chairman Choi Ho-jin to negotiate a discount on Dong-A’s menstrual products.
The video attracted over 1.2 million views, but not all of the attention was flattering for the company.
A response from one online viewer, which began, “I experienced discrimination during Dong-A Pharmaceutical’s hiring process,” unleashed a torrent of similar commentary from former applicants to the company.
On a jobseekers’ website, a job candidate wrote in a review, “I was asked by one of Dong-A’s recruiters if women should receive a lower salary than men since they don’t have to go the military.”
“The interview questions were shocking. I will boycott them from now on,” wrote another commentator.
In response to the allegations, Choi himself issued a response Saturday in the comments on the YouTube video at the center of the controversy, promising to improve the company’s recruitment practices.
“Having investigated the comments, we have confirmed that one of the interviewers who participated in the first round of interviews which took place on Nov. 16, 2020 posed a question to an applicant which was not in the interview manual and caused discomfort to the candidate,” Choi wrote.
“The interviewer in question has been disciplined. To prevent recurrences of a similar nature, we will reform and strengthen our internal education of interviewers.”
“We sincerely apologize to the applicant and our customers for causing distress.”
The allegations against Dong-A Pharmaceutical come as The Economist released a report on Friday that shows Korea at the bottom of the magazine’s glass-ceiling index, which ranks conditions for working women across 29 industrialized countries. Korea has been at the bottom for eight years in a row.
Although Korea has had a law forbidding discrimination in hiring and employment on the basis of sex since 1987, the country has struggled to narrow its gender pay gap, which remains the highest among OECD countries at 32.5 percent.
Regarding the current employment law’s effectiveness, Choi Mi-jin, head of the Women Labor Law Support Center, said, “Even if one raises the issue of remarks or questions made during an interview that would signal sexist discrimination, the law is limited in demanding accountability from such companies if sexist intent cannot be pinpointed as the reason for rejecting the candidate.
“Furthermore, it is difficult for job candidates undergoing the recruitment process to obtain proof to extract a judgement in their favor from a court, not only because such an effort would be time-consuming, but also because they fear it may negatively affect their prospects at other employers,” Choi said.
“The law exists, but there is no policy that can quickly and effectively provide recourse for victims of sexist recruitment practices.”
BY HAM MIN-JEONG, MICHAEL LEE [email@example.com]