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No gender, photo, or first name – One company makes major shakeup to job application forms

22 Comments
By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

Just like in other countries, writing a resume is an important part of job hunting in Japan, but in Japan you usually can’t complete your resume just by writing. Traditionally, Japanese resumes are also supposed to include a photo, and not one that shows off your creative flair or quirky personality.

Hair neatly combed, jacket and dress shirt (plus a tie if you’re a guy), and looking straight at the camera with a plain white background — basically, it’s like a formal-dress passport photo, and you’re supposed to stick one in the top right corner of your resume before you submit it with your application package. This isn’t something that’s only required for modeling, acting, or other jobs where your appearance is fundamentally connected to your ability to perform the role, either. If you want to be an accountant, a truck driver, or a medical researcher, you still need to show employers what you look like before you can even be considered for an interview.

If you’re thinking there’s no logical reason for that requirement, Unilever Japan agrees with you. The Japanese arm of the British-Dutch multinational, whose products include soaps and shampoos, has announced that as of this month it’s no longer requiring applicants to submit photos with their resumes.

The change, which applies to both new college graduates and mid-career job-seekers, is part of Unilever Japan’s Lux shampoo brand’s Social Damage Care Project, which holds that “All women have the right to shine.” In removing photos from resumes, Unilever says it wants to keep the focus on the individual’s job-related motivation and capabilities, not their gender or appearance. “If they are freed from the damaging constraints of being told how they must be in terms of appearance, age, profession, and home life, women will be able to shine more brightly,” declares the project’s mission statement.

To further attempt to remove gender from the equation, Unilever Japan is also no longer requiring applicants to specify a gender on their resumes, and is even going so far as to not ask for applicants to list their first name, as it could be used to surmise/assume what the person’s gender is.

Ironically, the video promoting these new policies shows two applicants both named Hikaru, a common unisex Japanese name.

Sure enough, a look at Lux’s current downloadable resume form shows only a box for 苗字 (family name), and it no longer has the customary one for 名前 (given name). Despite the Social Damage Care Project’s professed ideal about freeing people from age-based prejudice, it does still ask for a date of birth, and also for the applicant to fill in their current age, but this could be a requirement to show that the applicant is a legal adult and eligible to enter into contracted, full-time employment.

One could make the argument that even for jobs where stylishness or attractiveness aren’t critical factors for success, personal appearance is a way by which to gauge the applicant’s maturity, as well as their commitment to/respect for the job and organization. Unilever Japan isn’t going to blind interviews, though, and so the non-verbal communication of “I care about this job enough to have showered and put on clean, business-appropriate clothes for it” is still something hiring managers can check for during the actual interview process. Being able to take a nice picture, though, is an ability the company has decided it doesn’t really care one way or the other about.

Source: Lux via Niconico News via Jin

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Japanese high schools stop asking students to specify their gender on application forms

-- To handwrite, or not to handwrite? Recruiter lays into ‘laziness’ of young Japanese job hunters

-- Man forgets the first rule of Japanese job interviews: Don’t steal the boss’ wallet

© SoraNews24

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

22 Comments
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Hobbies: Playing Rugby and riding Harleys.

Hmm... I wonder which gender this applicant is.

-9 ( +4 / -13 )

Burning Bush

I'd like to meet her.

13 ( +14 / -1 )

Sounds good to me. In Australia, female Academics noticed that grant applications were treated less favorably if they put their (gender-specific) first name on the form as opposed to just their initials, meaning that the official bodies which make funding offers were biased towards researchers they though were male.

As an older male (63) I am constantly assailed by my age in the job market; one of the reasons I came to Japan to work is because - despite it being officially illegal in Australia to discriminate on the basis of age - I was unable to find a job. Time after time, as soon as my age became apparent (and employers have all sorts of ways to get around the law), my job application was rejected.

The situation is not all that good in Japan, but at least employers are up-front here when they refuse to hire people over 60, so I don't waste my time applying for jobs I have no chance of getting.

This move levels the playing field somewhat. It's good to see at least one company in Japan accepting applicant on the basis of merit, rather than on trivialities like gender, appearance, or age.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Hobbies: Playing Rugby and riding Harleys. Hmm... I wonder which gender this applicant is.

It could easily be either.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

 Traditionally, Japanese resumes are also supposed to include a photo, and not one that shows off your creative flair or quirky personality.

So...like anywhere else in the world no ?

I've seen many resumes with selfie-like photos on it for the past decade, generally people in charge of hiring think you're, at worst a moron, at best, a child not yet fit for professional environment (i just repeat what I've been hearing).

Besides, what's the revolution here? You still have to go to 1 or 2 interview and show your face right ? If someone's going to reject you because they don't like what you look like (something I condemned, just to be clear), is it not better to be put aside during the resume screening process and avoid a waste of time...

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

Hobbies: Playing Rugby and riding Harleys. Hmm... I wonder which gender this applicant is.

It could easily be either.

Statistically speaking, no, it's clearly a man.

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

Good for Unilever. Such a simple change too, I hope more (maybe all actually?) Japanese companies follow suit. I suspect that Japanese HR managers would end up just end up not giving them the job anyway after finding out that they're female though and it would take some monitoring to ensure female candidates were not being unnecessarily rejected.

Japan is so ridiculous for this kind of thing... I teach a course in diversity and inclusion at an eikaiwa but they put in the least effort possible when hiring so ended up with 10 out of 12 staff being (you guessed it) Western white males. One woman was bullied by the Japanese office staff and left, I've had to invite women to apply myself but no luck so far, then to make it even worse the nincompoops won't rehire a woman who wants to come back after an extended period of maternity leave (legal, but bad taste)...

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Sorry university lol they hired through an eikaiwa chain

3 ( +3 / -0 )

In the UK you can't ask an applicant's age, sex and definitely no photos. Some companies now ask for qualifications but not where you got them, as people are biased towards certain schools and universities. A few employers use numbers rather than names to identify applicants, as there is negative bias towards women and those from ethnic minorities. I used to be involved in recruitment in my previous career, HR used to redact applicants names from the forms we used for shortlisting. Qualifications and experience were the only criteria used for shortlisting. I never paid attention to the hobbies and interests section. Never saw the point of that.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

At my place (academia), we get CVs all the time, and there is no official format for the initial application; only after interviews and selecting the final candidate, they are required to submit a CV in a specific format (including photo); for foreigners, they need a photo for visa application anyways. However, most if not all the applications we got (from both Japanese and foreigners) include photo and gender; the age is quite easy to guess from the CV. Many people also put personal details such as marriage status, children, hobbies, etc. I personally don't care, I look at academic history, employment history, achievements list, recommendation letter and summary of previous work, and then I shortlist people and start interviews; at this stage I will meet them anyways. But it seems that candidates DO care since they put all of these details on their CV.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Howaitosan Today  08:44 am JST

This move levels the playing field somewhat.

Firstly, don't think for a second that this is anything but yet another attempt at trying to appear politically correct and failing. As others have mentioned there's other information on there that 9 times out of 10 point to a person's sex (aka: gender). This is just window dressing to make a corporation appear 'fair' when at the selection stage they can still be as discriminiatory as they like. Unless there are forced quotas applied ignoring a person's actual suitability for the position this will never change.

Secondly, it doesn't matter what info they leave out of the job applications, if you are deemed too old then you won't get the job. This is just giving a glimmer of hope to people who don't fit the mould to make it to the first interview stage.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

It could easily be either.

It isn't your age holding you back.

-8 ( +0 / -8 )

At middle and large companies in Japan, what % of the people they employ as seishain are fresh graduates? With some companies, it is pretty much everyone. That is huge prejudice against people who are not fresh university graduates.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

What if the candidate had entered a girls' school or a boys' school at any time in their life?

Are they supposed to omit that?

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

What if the candidate had entered a girls' school or a boys' school at any time in their life?

Are they supposed to omit that?

How about you to and read what the details actually are and we can comment on the actual details rather than useless speculation.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Japan is at the bottom of the global ladder when it comes to bias in hiring.

Despite there being a law against it, most recruitment agencies in Japan are told by their HR clients an age limit and age range.

There is still the issue here with managers not wanting to employ staff older than them, so HR tell the agents what the range is.

It is illegal but widespread.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Just call me Pat.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Removing identification in the first screening is great news! First screenings should always focus on matching the candidates to the requirements of the job.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Just call me Pat.

And you can call me Al. hits the horns

1 ( +1 / -0 )

For the legal part they could just insert a check box with "Are you over 18/20 years old?" (which ever the legal age limit would be), and not ask the candidates actual age. I also find this question intrusive and insulting, and I never include my birthdate in my cv or applications. I do have a photo of myself on my cv though, so people can get a rough estimate.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

First name too !??!?!?!?!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

And I have no idea why fresh graduates are so good for companies.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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