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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ask the Boss

Q: When hiring, is it ever justifiable to discriminate on the grounds of age or gender, as employers in Russia often do in job ads? Should candidates who don't fit the profile try to challenge this by applying anyway?

Owen-Christopher Kemp, vice president & managing director, Hewlett-Packard Russia

It doesn't make sense in terms of business to discriminate on the grounds of age or gender. On the contrary, it is very often a mistake, in addition to contradicting employment laws in many countries, that prevents a company from choosing best-in-class employees. Knowledge and experience, as well as innovative ideas and enthusiasm at the job, are usually defined neither by a particular age limit, nor by gender, nationality and other traditional stereotypes.

"I have always expected to see more diversity in the candidates that are presented to me for hiring. I guess this is a combination of both our recruiting and also the courage of potential candidates. Therefore, I would encourage various candidates to challenge employers on their part as much as possible, as diversity in the companies also strongly depends on candidates' motivation and persistence."

Luc Jones, partner, Antal International Russia/CIS:

Here at Antal International, we have the expression 'if you're good enough, you're old enough!' Whether I am interviewing candidates to work for one of my clients or to join Antal, I am considerably more interested in the candidate's previous work experience, personality and what they can bring to the table than purely their age. Simply rejecting someone because they are too old seems illogical in most cases.

"To be honest, when age is mentioned it's more to fit in with the rest of the team or office. But in all honesty age isn't often mentioned.

"Naturally, if a line manager is in his early 30s, then it is possible that a candidate in his late 40s would feel uncomfortable reporting to such a 'junior' person, although exceptions apply. However, employers would be naive to reject somebody purely based on their age; many 'more mature' candidates are renowned for their integrity, experience, loyalty, honesty and candor.

"Whether or not ageism is illegal is effectively irrelevant, especially in Russia, and in any case this would never be stated as the reason for rejecting a candidate."

Jay Blandy, managing director, Maccaferri Gabions CIS

The answer to this question is a definitive no, it is never justifiable -- ethically, morally, financially, practically, whatever -- to discriminate against individuals based upon age or gender, unless of course you're casting a play or movie. And, yes, I would encourage people to file actions against such companies that do. It's a business practice based upon fear and ignorance, and unfortunately, the hardest hit from my experience tend to be women and minorities."