“Traumatic”: Company asks applicants how many ‘stillborns’ they’ve had

by Cameron Edmond10 Oct 2013

Chevron has been heavily criticised for its recruitment process after one female job seeker exposed the company’s pre-employment questionnaire. Among the highly personal questions were queries asking how many  ‘stillbirths’ and ‘medical abortions’ she had experienced.

"It was a traumatic experience filling out that form and I'm not joking," the applicant told Fairfax Media.

The questions, which followed several more standard and accepted queries, appeared on the medical form under a section titled ‘Reproductive Outcomes’. The questions also asked about applicants’ partners, such as if they had been ‘sterilised’.

Further questions looked into the fertility of the applicant and their partner by asking if they had tried to conceive recently.

The form also included questions regarding sexually transmitted diseases and missed menstrual periods, and a disclaimer saying if the questions were not answered truthfully the application may be rejected.

"I was furious, how can I speak for my partner? On a form? It's not right," the applicant said.

More probing questions were asked of live births, including if the child was ‘normal’.

Chevron released a statement saying the company was guided by industry standards, and that applicants were not discriminated on based on their medical history. While the statement emphasised answering were voluntary, the form also instructed men and women to answer ‘all’ questions.

Although the questions were for both men and women, the applicant stated there was a clear slant towards women.

"They are gender-specific questions geared towards women but if you're a guy you can breeze through … I was shocked because Chevron is the kind of organisation that [does] value women, that's why I applied for a job with them in the first place, and this seems so disconnected to that."

She added the currently weak employment market placed more pressure on job seekers to provide personal information even if they did not really want to. "They have all the power and you have none.”

Although not of the same gravity, HC has reported previously on the effects of gender bias in the recruitment process. Social experiments and job titles have demonstrated that gender still plays a large part in the recruitment process, and presents roadblocks for women entering the workforce.

*Image source: Fairfax Media/Daily Life.

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