When Companies Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff


    When people tell me that US companies exploit lax regulations in other countries through offshoring, I usually pooh-pooh their arguments, putting it into the category of general rants with no basis in fact (since they never offer facts). But when the Los Angeles Times takes on the topic, it’s not so easy to do the same.

    At least, that’s the way I felt when I read the article, "In Mexico, young and thin are often job requirements," which appears here.

    It’s not specifically offshoring-related, because the activities discussed involve Mexican subsidiaries or partners of major US corporations.

    But it’s still cause for pause.

    Here’s the situation: In Mexico, unlike in the States, you can find job ads that specifically mandate height, weight, marital status, gender, even what part of town you live in as part of the job qualifications.

    Among the companies cited: Even my beloved Baker & McKenzie, the law firm that puts on what I consider to be invaluable Webcasts about doing business in other countries.

    Here’s an example of an ad referenced in the article:

    Lear Corp.
    Position: bilingual secretary
    Education: bachelor’s degree or some college
    Sex: female
    Age: 20 to 28
    Civil status: preferably single
    Experience: English knowledge 70%; Microsoft Office software knowledge 80%
    Appearance: excellent presentation
    Live: preferably near the city of Silao
    Other: please send resume with a recent photo

    I always wondered where Austin Powers moved to after he stopped being a super-secret agent. Now I know that he’s joined Lear’s HR team in Mexico.

    The company’s response: "A spokeswoman for Michigan-based Lear said that the ad was not in keeping with the company’s fair-employment policies and that it would be revised."

    That’s what most of the companies responded — and those who didn’t simply refer the writers to the entity doing the advertising, which, in turn, say (presumably straight-faced) that they don’t discriminate.

    I’ll support companies going global, striking out for new markets in new locations. But there’d better be some respect for fair play across those borders; otherwise, I’ll become a ranter too.