Barking up the wrong tree?

Jan 05 2006 by Brian Amble Print This Article

We're well-used to hearing about employment discrimination on the basis of sex, race or religion. But discrimination on the basis of Astrological profile is not something that many of us will be familiar with.

Yet as a story from The Associated Press highlights, the year you were born in is a big deal if you are Chinese.

The lunar-calendar astrology used in China and several other Asian countries assigns a different animal to each year in a 12-year cycle, each of which is credited with different personality traits. The coming year, starting on January 29, is the year of the dog.

And AP has uncovered a company in northern China, Jilin Jiangshan Human Resources Development Co. Ltd, which says it will only hire candidates born in a year of the dog because they are more suited to its corporate culture.

"We believe that people born in dog years are born with some good characteristics such as loyalty and honesty," [personnel manager Mr] Dong, himself a dog, told The Associated Press.

"As a human resource company, those characters are exactly what we need," Dong said.

The company's policy, stated in an advertisement placed on an Internet job site, has prompted accusations of bias from some Shanghai college graduates, who face intense competition in China's increasingly crowded job market.

Although Chinese law forbids discrimination in hiring, it doesn't say what constitutes an offence and job ads often come with a list of conditions including gender, age, height and even place of birth.

Nonsense? Or is this is any more or less accurate than some of the testing and assessment methods used by companies closer to home?