Here’s how not to hire wait staff (Editor’s notes)

Employers under fire for bias in recruitment
By Todd Humber
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 04/12/2011

Are you a 110? If so, odds are you aren’t working as wait staff at a trendy restaurant or ringing up sales at a fashionable retail outlet. What’s a 110? It’s a leading candidate to be inducted into the HR Worst Practice Hall of Shame.

The “110” designation comes courtesy of Darren Hawker, a former assistant general manager at a Moxie’s restaurant in Toronto. Hawker told the Toronto Sun he was directed by senior management to hire only busty and thin female applicants, regardless of qualifications. “110” was marked on the resumés of unattractive candidates. It meant do not call. Draw a diagonal line between the ones and it spells “NO” — I’m assuming they thought this was pretty clever.

Officially, and unsurprisingly, Moxie’s came out against the practice. It was “possible” people who have come from other companies have used the 110 code but “it is not something we endorse or teach,” said Sue Thomson, vice-president of marketing.

Retailer American Apparel was also singled out for its requirement that applicants submit a photo — and not just a headshot, according to its website. Jobseekers are instructed to send in a photo, preferably head to toe “dressed in such a way that reflects your personal taste and fashion sensibility. Please remember that we are open-minded and are looking for individuals who are of all shapes and sizes.”

But a former manager at a Toronto American Apparel told the Toronto Sun only petite, good-looking people are hired.

Asking candidates to submit photos is a terrible idea. Photos, after all, reveal more than just how a person looks — they also potentially show race, age, religion or a disability. Those are all prohibited grounds of discrimination under human rights legislation.

And it’s not like hiring on looks even makes economic sense. Ostensibly, the thinking is attractive waitresses translate into more business.

But if that were the case, Hooters would be the most successful restaurant on the planet.

There are desirable skill sets when it comes to people dealing with the public, and looks aren’t at the top of the list. That honour goes to personality. A personable, knowledgeable and chatty individual will do far more to boost sales and engender loyalty than someone who is good-looking but can’t engage people.

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