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Australian company excoriated over “Anglo Saxon” job ad

by | Apr 17, 2018 | Analysis, Public Relations

Why would any company, no matter the size, post an openly racist job advertisement? That’s a question many in Australia are asking after one of the country’s largest telecommunications firms produced a job advertisement saying they were seeking “Anglo Saxon” candidates.

The company, Optus, posted a job ad promising “fantastic opportunities for those seeking a career in retail and sales…” Along with the job requirements, the ad listed the following preferences: “Candidates who are Anglo Saxon and live near Neutral Bay.”

After numerous complaints, the company removed the advertisement, and nothing much was said about where it came from and who was responsible. Speaking to the media, Optus Vice President of Human Resources, Vaughan Paul, said: “This is an error and completely unacceptable, and a clear breach of our advertising standards and our commitment to equal opportunity… We will be investigating how this occurred with a view to taking disciplinary action against those involved… We offer an unreserved apology…”

Australian company excoriated over “Anglo Saxon” job ad

So, what happened, who is responsible and why did they do it? Those questions are wide open to interpretation and assumption at this point. Was it a disgruntled employee on his or her way out? Was it a prank that should have never been released but was accidentally published? Was it someone who genuinely doesn’t know any better, and just thought it would be totally okay to openly discriminate in a job posting? The answer to these questions is unclear at this point.

Some customers did not wait for any clarity or further apologies before making their opinions known. One tweet about the incident that was picked up and shared by multiple media outlets included this from user Maker Mayek: “I’ve been a loyal customer for 14 years and so have other thousands of non Anglo-Saxon Australians. I’ll now switch to another network provider. I also hereby call upon other non-Anglo-Saxon Australians to boycott Optus immediately…”

There were countless other comments such as these. So far, Optus has not made public any numbers on lost customers or revenue because of this situation. It’s clear that a great many people are very upset, and it will likely take more than a simple apology to make this right in their eyes.

It would help the situation greatly, at least for Optus, if they learned who was directly responsible for the ad and made that information public while specifically distancing themselves from the sentiment expressed. Until then, they can expect push-back.

Ronn Torossian
Ronn Torossian founded 5WPR, a leading PR agency..

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