A job advertisement for a “Caucasian” part-time English teacher has come under fire for being potentially discriminatory. Its listing in the South China Morning Post’s Classified Post may also violate parts of Hong Kong’s anti-discrimination ordinance.

The ad, posted by The Mission Covenant Church Sister Annie’s Kindergarten and Nursery, stated that it sought a teacher “with a loving and kind-hearted personality, teaching experience and Caucasian”. It was published in the SCMP print edition on September 12 and September 19 and on the website cpjobs.com, which the publishing group owns. It has since been deleted from the website.

scmp job listing
Job listing on SCMP’s Classified Post. Photo: HKFP.

Yeung Lap Yan, Executive Secretary for the Mission Covenant Church, told HKFP: “I called the kindergarten and talked to the principal and was told that they just misused the word for a ‘native English-speaking teacher’. Down in their heart, they would like to recruit a NET but unfortunately they put ‘Caucasian’ on the advert… I asked her to tell the SCMP to remove the post and make a correct version. It has been removed already.”

job ad
The ad on CP Jobs.

An apology also appeared on their Facebook page:

Notice and ApologyIt has come to our attention that one of our kindergartens has inadvertently used an inappropriate…

Posted by 基督教聖約教會 on Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Under the Race Discrimination Ordinance, which applies to all employers in Hong Kong, it is unlawful to discriminate, harass or vilify a person on the grounds of his or her race. Treating a person less favourably on the grounds of race, including denials of positions or interviews because of one’s race, is an unlawful act under the RDO.

Under section 42 of the RDO, it is also unlawful to publish an advertisement which indicates an intention by a person to do an unlawful act of discrimination in the employment field. “For example, it is unlawful to publish an advertisement indicating that only people of Chinese origin would be employed by a company,” the Equal Opportunities Commission website says.

“Unless there are special reasons to justify the requirement or arrangement, there could be implications of discrimination under the RDO,” Sam Ho of the EOC told HKFP.

A spokesperson at CPjobs.com told HKFP that the SCMP Group remains committed to complying with laws against discrimination.

“The advertisement was published without any intention to discriminate. Upon noticing that there could be an ambiguity on the choice of words yesterday, we immediately pulled the ad and informed the advertiser, who subsequently issued a clarification.”

‘Incredibly disappointing’
Netizens criticised the job advertisement for being discriminatory. “Sigh! Surely this can be submitted to EOC right? Disgusting,” Matthew Kavanagh said on Facebook.

Another Facebook commenter, Andrew Newland, said: “For such a modern city the level of casual racism I’ve encountered is both staggering and incredibly disappointing! When people feel it’s ok to post advertisements such as this without fear of recrimination then it clearly shows anti-discrimination legislation is sadly lacking. A house leaks from its roof!”

Others were less surprised by the advertisement. “Not the first time I’ve seen that. I’ve even seen ‘must be British’ in job postings. So pretty much everyone not from the UK can take a hike. HK has lots of problems with racism for sure,” said Aaron McGill.

Additional Reporting: Tom Grundy.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.