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A catalogue of the everyday discriminations commonplace in financial services recruitment

Before you get the call from a recruiter or employer, an unseen world passes by: candidate selection. In this world, subtle discrimination is standard - and more rich and varied than you could probably imagine.

From small prejudices to flagrant discrimination, we've spent the past few weeks collecting a list of the discriminatory statements made to recruiters by clients in investment banks, brokers, asset management firms and insurers.

This is what they told us:

1) Too old/too!

"28 years old? That's too young. He won't be able to stand up in front of clients."

"This candidate is definitely too senior. He won't get along with the other managers. We need someone around 35 years' old - no more."

"We don't want candidates who are more than 45 years old because they're harder to manage than younger people - and too expensive."

2) Experience - yes, but not just any old experience

"He's 35 and still hasn't managed a team? No, he's wrong."

"I'm not keen on hiring someone who hasn't changed employer in 10 years. He's almost certainly incapable of flexibility."

"Four experiences in 8 years?! This candidate can stop fidgeting. He doesn't inspire confidence in me."

3) This university, or nothing

"We're specifically looking for candidates from the top business schools."

"I went to this university and I'd prefer a candidate from the same institution."

4) Women and breeders

"A woman would never fit into this environment."

"We're primarily interested in female candidates because we want to feminize the team."

"We'd prefer to avoid a woman in her thirties- the risk of maternity leave is just too large."

"We'd like to find an attractive woman who will go down well with clients, but not too beautiful as this can cause management difficulties in the team."

"We'd like a man. A woman wouldn't be able to adapt to working in our almost exclusively masculine environment."

5) Wrong address!

"It's not possible. He lives too far from work."

6) Wrong employers

"We don't want any candidates from X bank. They are ruthless."

"We don't want a candidate who's come from a competitor. We'd prefer someone from outside the sector."

"We only want to meet candidates who come from the big name banks."

7) Wrong birthplace

"As we said, we've already had too many applicants from the third world."

"Indian employees are very keen on us. They all want to come and work here."

This list is far exhaustive. If you've encountered similar prejudice let us know, using the comments box below.

A version of this article first appeared on our French site.

AUTHORAnonymous Insider Comment
  • So
    South AFrica
    29 July 2011

    I came across an opportunity in South Africa where the business head and the HR and others members of the team thought I was a good candidate but the newly recruited South Africa white head just found to many non sense excuses for not hiring despite my flexible answers each time such as ( relocation for the family is expensive, visa application, need to hire other member of the team first etccc.). In practice, we feel the discrimination but can not prove it. He still hasn't fill the position today but no once can intervene internally.That's ashamed.

  • BO
    27 July 2011

    having dealt with many French based companies in the past I have learnt that most of these points are actually quite commonly discussed in itnerviews. their laws that recruiters have to abide to in France are completely different to those in the UK. It is very common for interviewers to discuss all of the points in the article. Another pointless articel re-hashed to try and raise a bit of comment.

  • an
    26 July 2011

    Job hunting in 2009 outside the City I was told by one recruitment agent that a hiring team was receiving so many CVs they were selecting candidates for interview on the basis of their hobbies. Needless to say I did not get an interview (female and on the wrong side of 40).

  • sk
    26 July 2011

    i that british banks will never see any ethnic minorities making to top, neither do i see them coming out of recession either, they still live in old boys image that they rule the world!!

  • A
    26 July 2011

    From my experience. they don't discriminate enough while hiring! I worked in one team where I knew I'd be the only woman on my level. Only after joining did I hear that there had been two before me both of whom very quickly resigned. I soon noticed why and did so, too.

    Why can they not either stop hiring women or make the environment somewhat bearable? It's not like we don't have choices, there are plenty of great non-discriminatory teams around.

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