Are religious and race discrimination in the workplace totally the same? Media always make headlines based on misleading information as we can see in local newspapers. According to this paper, race much more important than resume and skills quality, affects prospects of getting an interview, with Malays, Malaysia’s majority group, significantly less likely to be called than Chinese. Malay graduates face differential treatment when applying for jobs compared to their Chinese counterparts. The reality is they emphasize more on racial instead of skill requirement. Is it because of communication language or culture?
Other factors, particularly language proficiency of employees, language requirements of jobs and profile of employers, influencing employer biases. Applicants fluent in Chinese are more likely to be called for an interview, and Chinese and foreign-controlled companies are more likely to favor Chinese, indicating that cultural compatibility explains part of the discrimination. Compare to monolingual countries, in which cultural diversity is bridged by a common language, such as English in the United States.
Don’t confuse “Chinese-speaking” to a racial requirement. Even Malays can be speaking Chinese either Mandarin, Cantonese or Hokkien dialect, it doesn’t mean a green light for preferred Chinese and foreign-controlled companies accept them because it’s a matter of culture fit in their organization. Besides that, there are many jobs that require a specific language. Some certain jobs require Chinese language such as sales, service or management jobs to deal with Chinese customers especially china’s Chinese customers. If you’re dealing with international companies, you need English. It goes on and on. There is another myth that if you know another language, that is racist. There are some Chinese don’t even speak Mandarin (banana – a Chinese who can’t speak Chinese), predominantly English speaking ones. But here’s the catch, Chinese & foreign-controlled companies more emphasize on culture fit even the candidates don’t know the Chinese language.
What happens if a person who doesn’t write Chinese design a banner in Chinese? Do you want to see more? Here.
They don’t hire Malay is to protect the Malay with their religious beliefs. That’s respect, not discrimination. For example, her or his job require to go out with the potential clients that require drinking session or eat pork at Chinese restaurants that forbidden is Islam. But is it necessary that job requires someone to go out drinking with boss and clients? It depends on their company culture. It depends on what kind of job. Sales, services and management jobs usually require entertaining clients, who are into clubs and drinking, as to build rapport/relationship. Just like entertainment with some business partner, one might need to smoke or drink in order to be easier to discuss things. But how about the job that not require this kind of things such as software developer and engineer?
However, when comes to academic qualification either graduated from public or private sectors, the discrimination holds after controlling for quality, confounding the view that Malay graduates face less favorable treatment because of lower academic achievement. Indeed, an above average, high CGPA Malay graduate is less likely to be called for an interview than a below average, low CGPA Chinese graduate. Employer and job characteristics impact interview prospects, with Chinese- and foreign-controlled companies, and jobs requiring Chinese language proficiency, distinctly favoring Chinese applicants.
Well, I worked with a company before where the director is from UK. And barely we use chinese in our daily communication, but when a new HR Manager come in which is chinese, he put up a job vacancy ads where it says the company need chinese speaking candidate. I was shocked since we barely use chinese in the office.
That could very well be discrimination and it was convenient using “Chinese-speaking” to do it. But I am wondering what is the job scope and position? If the job itself does not require the language, then that’s a case there.
General admin work. And we do not communicate with anyone from China anyway, just people from UK. Someone pull the string and the HR Manager lose his job. So if you told me these advertisement is not race biased. I guess better tell it to someone else as I am unlikely to believe it.
Luckily that action taken to the recruiter.
It’s funny if the HR manager put Chinese speaking is a must so they can join drink and eat, a good boss will know about this. The good boss does not force their Muslim employees to go drink beer with them. So the HR needs to have more believable reasons.
Another side story from Chinese recruiter in the different company:
Sorry to hear your work issues. Not going to pretend I know what is going on so I shall not comment.
However, even us Chinese run into many issues with work place politics and getting ourselves ostracized.
As for discrimination, both sides should share the blame. I am in no doubt that it happens. However, there is a very fine line between actual racism and preference (in terms of perceived job performances). Either way is unfortunate.
As a rather current personal experience, I am in the process of hiring several new staff. I DO NOT have any prejudice on hiring but here is my experience. All this within the past month.
Malay candidate 1 (Female): Worked one week. MC 1 day. Then quit another week later. One day notice.
Malay candidate 2 (male): Cancelled scheduled interview appointment twice, then no show on the 3rd
Malay candidate 3 (male): Cancelled scheduled interview appointment twice. No idea if he will show tomorrow.
Malay candidate 4 (female): Was supposed to start 1st Oct, then delay to 5th, now delay start to 17th. No idea if she would actually even show up.
Chinese candidate (female): Started work a few days EARLY. Say wanted to catch up on training.
Note all these candidates are offered the same salary based on their duties. No preferences. This despite the Chinese candidate possesses additional language skills, seems more industrious and motivated.
Its not hard to over generalize given these experiences. Its not fair to most, but nonetheless, the blame should be shared.
Private companies, do not have time to be playing musical chairs with the hiring process.
Now, as an employer hiring, do I.
a) not bother abut Malay candidates
b) continue to waste my time over them
Us employers have no choice but to hire Malay as they constitute the majority of the workforce. However, we have all heard and experienced various performance issues first hand. I had Malay girl that maxes out her MC, maxes out her annual leave, then takes unpaid leave. How is a company to run with this?
I sincerely hope our Malay workforce wise up and understand that these sort of attitude does not do the entire race any favours.
But how about Malay dominated companies and public sectors? Malay candidates are also perceived and prejudged adversely, and that employers’ attitudes toward public policy outcomes, particularly pertaining to education quality and employment opportunity in the public sector, also account for the racial disparities which are confined to the private sector.
So far there is no law in Malaysia that criminalize all forms of discrimination based on race or religion according to the past ruler, Barisan Nasional as the unity in the country is still under control.
There are a few of solutions for this racial and religious discrimination issue:
- Starts by removing the language barrier as interview requirement and during working.
- If the job requires specific language, must state more logical and practical reason in the job description.
- The government should establish a law that criminalizes all forms of discrimination based on race or religion.
- Improve the hiring process from time to time.
- Besides that, the government should create a new policy whereby all jobs posted must use recruitment evaluation platform to avoid bias.
- Avoid prejudice to Malay candidates among Chinese and foreign-controlled companies. Not all of them are problematic.
We can conclude that cultural compatibility and lingual commonality evidently impact selection for interview, perceptions, and appraisals of Malay fresh graduates are evidently adverse and considerably prejudicial, discrimination in hiring graduates appears intertwined with two specific policy outcomes associated with pro-Malay affirmative action whereby diminished education quality and enhanced opportunity in the public sector and from the perspective of employers’ attitudes toward public policy and relative opportunity of Malay and non-Malay graduates.
If you are a tech company looking for evaluation platform, you can register here and we will be in touch.
If you resonated with this article, please subscribe to my personal email subscription. You will get a weekly update from me about coding, recruitment & Artificial Intelligence.