Is equality going back to the 1980’s?

Equality has come a long way since I started work in the 1980s.

Back then, adverts often set an upper age limit of 30. Men’s salaries always went up more quickly.  The new secretary always had to be blonde.  You may think I’m exaggerating with that last one.  I promise you I’m not.

Thankfully, like the mullet haircut, these things seem to be a thing of the past. At least, I thought they were until I saw Matching Models’ ad for a personal assistant.  They ask that candidates have a classic look, brown long hair with b-c cup”.  How about this person?

Oh no, wait.  They will also need to be “an experienced female with no commitments”.  Keep looking!

Equality Act 2010

It is against the Equality Act 2010 to treat someone less favourably due to:

  • Gender
  • Gender reassignment
  • Pregnancy & Maternity
  • Religion or beliefs
  • Disability
  • Race, colour, ethnic background, nationality
  • Sexual orientation
  • Marriage & civil partnershipno-children

The advert clearly says don’t bother applying if you are a man, have caring responsibilities or are married. No wonder the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) called the advertisement “appalling, unlawful and demeaning to women”.  

But aren’t they just following their client’s orders?

Do you have sympathy for the agency in question? After all, aren’t they just following client orders?

An applicant doesn’t have to have any service with a company to be able to claim discrimination.  There is no limit to the amount of damages that can be awarded.  The person who wrote the advert could be held personally liable. The fact that someone else told them to write it is no defence.

When I was told to recruit to blondes, I always refused. I shortlisted the best candidates – whatever their hair colour. I love my 80’s music but let’s not go back to equality 1980’s style.


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