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Hong Kong fire department struggles to recruit ethnic minorities

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Many workplaces are becoming increasingly diverse, be it due to a successful diversity policy or simply as a result of globalisation. Yet some companies in Hong Kong struggle to diversify their work force, despite attempts to include the city’s ethnic minorities in their recruitment process.

The Hong Kong Fire Services Department is one of those companies. In an article in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), Yeung Kai Wang, assistant divisional officer from the recruitment, training and examination group, said the department only received 10 applications from members of ethnic minorities during previous recruitment drives.

Considering Hong Kong is home to over 123,000 South Asian residents, the department would like to do better than that. Research has proven the beneficial effects a diverse workforce can have on a company’s profits and competitiveness, but for organisations like Hong Kong’s fire department, the lack of diversity among staff members has an even more direct impact.

“If a member of an ethnic minority was trapped in a traffic accident, the new recruits could understand the patient at the scene,” Yeung told the SCMP. He added that they would be used in districts with dense ethnic minority populations. Next year, there will be around 140 vacancies in the ambulance department, and another 200 in the fire department.

For companies struggling to tap into the talent pool of Hong Kong’s ethnic minorities, a recent checklist by cut-e could be a good starting point on the road to improvement. Among other things, the document provides advice on conducting an objective job analysis and preparing a fair job description to ensure companies aren’t excluding certain applicants right from the start.

For example, the checklist advises to avoid using photos in job ads as they may discriminate if only, or mostly, individuals of one ethnicity are depicted. Furthermore, the list suggests to only mention language requirements if they are truly relevant for the job and not simply a nice-to-have.

ALSO READ: Word-of-mouth recruitment can help to increase diversity

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