- Cynet Systems, a Virginia-based tech staffing services firm, caused controversy after posting a LinkedIn job ad seeking a "Preferably Caucasian" candidate. The ad was highlighted in a Twitter post last week by user Helena McCabe, who shared a screenshot of the ad. McCabe, later identified in a report from BBC as a Florida-based coder, tweeted to Cynet in the post: "How could you POSSIBLY think that's okay?"
- The screenshot of the job listing showed the company had been hiring for a full-time, "Senior-level" role, specifically an account manager position, according to BBC. The outlet said Cynet posted the ad on LinkedIn, Glassdoor and several other cites. Other qualifications for the position included 8-10 years of experience, a "good technical background including knowledge of RPA" and "Relationship individual who can get more opportunities and build the account."
- Cynet later pulled the ad and issued an apology via its Twitter account: "Cynet apologizes for the anger & frustration caused by the offensive job post," the company said. "It does not reflect our core values of inclusivity & equality. The individuals involved have been terminated. We will take this as a learning experience & will continue to serve our diverse community." In a statement to BBC, Cynet co-CEO Ashwani Mayur said the company's policy prohibits it from advertising for clients who discriminate based on race, and that it had begun a review of current and future job posts to catch offensive ads. Mayur said the company's staff is "over 60% minority." Both of Cynet's co-CEOs, Mayur and Nikhil Budhiraja, are Indian-American, according to BBC.
Recruiting discrimination is seldom as blatant as this example; the ad's wording bluntly states a race-based preference for certain candidates, in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Mistake or not, the incident highlights the issue of recruiting bias in tech, a long-documented problem that top companies have publicly struggled to face.
Cynet's stated intention of reviewing future ads is more or less in line with what other tech companies have done. SAP, for example, chose to adopt recruiting software that enabled it to replace potentially biased language in job ads with "neutral" language in job. Compliance and unconscious bias training for managers can also be utilized, but such training isn't always enough to create change.
On an internal level, hiring managers and recruiters aren't necessarily on the same page 100% of the time, potentially creating strategic differences. Though both groups in a recent HackerRank survey stated a preference for skills-based hiring, the two diverged in their prioritization of certain areas, like future performance and retention.
Needless to say, mistakes like this can cause hard-to-repair damage to an employer brand and hurt future recruiting efforts. Even job ads that don't profess discriminatory hiring preferences can damage a brand; one employer learned this lesson the hard way when a hiring manager's notes were accidentally included in a job post.