Accountancy RADAR


Rage Against Discrimination in Accountancy Recruitment

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Recruiters should not make money from discrimination

The lack of respect for qualified accoutants being shown by financial recruitment agencies must stop.  Older accountants have a least as much skill and ability as newly qualified candidates

Robert Walters PLC was one of the agencies who were challenged by Ms Keane because of their use of the terms “newly qualified” “recently qualified” etc, in their advertising. Robert Walters had been advertising for finance staff using terms such as “newly qualified” and this was in breach of the age discrimination legislation.  Robert Walters defended the use of these terms and their Group Legal Counsel, Rosemary Nicholls wrote to Ms Keane as follows: 


Robert Walters defends its use of discriminatory advertising

“Without wanting to repeat the judgement I suggest you re-read the Tribunal’s findings which clearly state that a job description is not discriminatory where it can be shown that it is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. As people can in fact qualify at any age, the use of the words “newly qualified” is not of itself discriminatory. I am somewhat surprised at your assumption that it is only people of a certain age that are newly qualified.”
Ms Keane had proved to the tribunal that asking for a “newly qualified” candidate would mean that the recruiter wanted to target someone less than 35 years of age.  Judge Lewzey accepted that the phrase “newly qualified” would be discriminatory and would discriminate against Ms Keane. Judge Lewzey did not explain why she sided with the agencies and what legitimate aim they could have been pursuing by excluding candidates over 35 years old from applying for these positions.


Robert Walters still tries to maintain this position despite seeing proof that the term newly qualified will target younger candidates


Robert Walters were awarded costs by Judge Lewzey despite Ms Keane having proved that their advertisments were discriminatory

Organisations who want to target younger candidates, whether because managers fear older candidates who might have more skills and abilities than themselves or because the organisation wants to impose hours and terms that it knows would not be acceptable to older candidates continue to discriminate in this way even three years after the legislation making this unlawful was introduced.  These businesses use agencies to recruit for them.  The agencies often have no other skill than to select candidates on behalf of their client to match specific criteria.  This can lead to discrimination not just on grounds of age but can include sex and race discrimination as well.  What do you think is meant by the requirement for “red brick university”; surely this is meant to exclude any candidate who was not born in the UK?  Many of the staff of these organisations are merely sales people who have no accountancy background or training and who simply select candidates based strict criteria (which may be discriminatory). This is no way to recruit finance staff!


Why do Recruitment Agencies continue to discriminate?

Recently Judge Lewzey ordered that Ms Keane should pay Robert Walters £10,000.  

You may be recently qualified (CIMA / ACA / ACCA, or overseas equivalent ), although the use of the term recently qualified does not preclude someone with more qualified experience from applying for the role


What does this mean? Does it mean the client asked us for a recently qualified (CIMA / ACA / ACCA, but you can apply if you want (we won’t consider you!)