Employers seek gender, sexuality details

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Employers are regularly seeking intimate information about job applicants’ sexual orientation, gender identity and ethnicity as they choose candidates for jobs.

Evidence has emerged that recruitment agencies and businesses are seeking personal details from job applicants as employers seek to hire a diverse workforce and be seen as equal opportunity employers.

A Sydney man, who wishes to remain anonymous, but with evidence of such treatment, says he has been asked in dozens of online questionnaires about intimate information.

Screen shots taken of one form asks for applicants to state whether they identify as ‘straight’, ‘gay’, ‘bi-sexual’ or ‘prefer not to say’.

Another form seeks information about gender identity, including whether applicants consider themselves a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and their ethnic background.

“These questions are occasionally non-compulsory, but whether they are or not, I definitely feel that ticking “straight, white male” doesn’t paint much of a favoured picture for an ‘equal opportunity employer’, which, quite frankly, is not equal when one group is privileged over another,” he told AAP.

The man, who said he has applied for more than 400 jobs, described the questions as “quite bizarre”.

“These questions were quite common. I would say one in 10 companies asked these types of questions. I applied for over 400 roles,” he said.

Australian Human Rights Commissioner Edward Santow said Australian law does not require employers to have quotas on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status.

“It is not inherently unlawful to ask questions about someone’s sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status, but context is everything,” Mr Santow said.

“It would be unlawful for an employer to discriminate against someone on the basis of their answers to such questions.”

The Sex Discrimination Act makes it unlawful to discriminate when advertising jobs, during recruitment and selection processes, when making decisions about training, transfer and promotion opportunities, and in the terms, conditions and termination of employment.

The AHRC said it had received a number of complaints during the 2018/19 financial year on the subject.

“The Commission can confirm that in the 18/19 financial year we received complaints in the area of employment on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status,” a spokesperson said on Tuesday.

Data shows it received approximately 17 complaints under the Sex Discrimination Act in the area of employment “where the complainant identified the relevant protected attribute as either sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status”.

“Of those, only one complaint related to a job application form. The complainant alleged the form required them to provide proof of intersex or Gender X status and that this was discriminatory,” it said.

From August 2013 it became unlawful to discriminate against a person on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status under federal law.

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