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Black Lives Matter in recruitment. Really?

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by frodo_magic, Aug 29, 2020.

  1. frodo_magic

    frodo_magic Occasional commenter

    It's interesting the recent anti-racism drive across many parts of the world. I wonder how recruitment agencies will show their even-playing field credentials.

    The problem I can see, is that for all an agency's noble ambitions to be race-neutral in its approach to international recruitment and the one they've had forever, is that they have to deal with the reality of chasing commissions recruiting staff for racist schools in racist societies. As shocking as it is to you and me, your average school in Kuwait, Saudi, China etc knows that the parents of their students do not want their kids taught by a Bangladeshi, black person or anyone else who isn't whiter than white, even if they are British born and bred. What's more, there is zero appetite or drive in these countries to change anything, an arrogant trait known to many who have done time teaching in the ME especially, but I didn't meet or see a single non-white / Asian teaching in the year I did in China either; there's no 'Black lives matters' guilty conscience in these places.

    What it will take is US and British Governments to seriously penalise agencies that operate in this way (and risk upsetting the Governments of ME countries), and it's going to take some long court cases to force the issue. How evidence will be gathered is anyone's guess.

    A start might be to force agencies to report publicly on the ethnicity of the recruits they've placed each year.
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2020
  2. englishtt06

    englishtt06 Occasional commenter

    I noticed that SA put out a very definitive statement recently in response to this (I suspect!), which was itself a response to SA's initial statement about BLM.


    In their tougher stance, I note that SA are finally getting rid of the requirement for photographs - a step in the right direction. When I went to their fair this year, on the last day the conference app was full of the teachers who were putting themselves out there as they hadn't secured positions: they were all PoC females. The SA leadership were as privy to those messages as I was...
  3. Mitochondria1

    Mitochondria1 Occasional commenter

    Only a matter of time before some crazy stalker person derails the thread, getting it locked, and trying to stifle any discussion about it, because the hard left isn't about discussion, it's about accepting dogma no matter the cost.
    There's no doubt that certain organisations may talk about diversity and doing this, and doing that, but when it come's down to it, they will happily accept money from organisations that discriminate...
    alex_teccy and frodo_magic like this.
  4. Mitochondria1

    Mitochondria1 Occasional commenter

    Not having photos is enshrined in many accreditation organisations' requirements, and also falls foul of some countries' laws on anti-discrimination. SA have done nothing of substance by dropping this. There are other ways to determine the origin of a candidate...name, passport, uni, face to face interview...

    If a country, or school, has not, and will not hire non-white candidates, and actively discriminates, then why will SA not stop working with them?
  5. englishtt06

    englishtt06 Occasional commenter

    I'm very aware of this - and I'm not here to defend SA (far from it, in fact - I have a number of colleagues/friends who have been burned by them over the years as fallguys for the sharp practice of school recruitment). I feel it's a step in the right direction, albeit a very small one.

    Also - not really sure where the 'hard left' comes into any of this.... unless you yourself are actively trying to derail the thread, ironically?
    colacao17 and install like this.
  6. install

    install Star commenter

  7. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    I worked in China for 6 years. I had colleagues who were overseas Chinese (British and North American born), black (British and North American), Indian, Sri Lankan... So, some schools do hire outside of the preference for white teachers. I heard and saw lots of racism in relation to these teachers, but it's not my place to say what their individual experiences were. One former black colleague is still in China, and defends the country, because in her eyes the experiences of black people in her home country, the US, are more negative (I guess, in the US she could potentially be shot by the police, whereas in China she'd simply encounter a sign on a shop door saying 'No Africans').

    I don't understand why everyone expects recruitment agencies to do something about the racism that in endemic in so many other countries and cultures. Isn’t it just another form of western imperialism to expect western governments to dictate the rules for foreign owned schools in foreign countries? Couldn't western rules simply be circumnavigated by locating the recruitment agencies overseas?

    Just an observation, but places where racism is most openly accepted seem to be places with terrible human rights records. I propose western governments focus on that aspect, rather than recruitment in 'international' schools.
  8. frodo_magic

    frodo_magic Occasional commenter

    "Only a matter of time before some crazy stalker person derails the thread, getting it locked"

    Just add any bunny boilers to your ignore list (top right corner, click on your icon), stay on topic and never respond to them. Works for me. Bunny boilers have few words / no words to offer on any topic so you won't miss anything.
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2020
  9. install

    install Star commenter

  10. frodo_magic

    frodo_magic Occasional commenter

    "I don't understand why everyone expects recruitment agencies to do something about the racism that in endemic in so many other countries and cultures."

    I'm not sure I was expecting them to do anything in particular, but if they want to operate in e.g the UK, with all the benefits of that), then they should follow the laws on equality, racism etc. Agencies can't expect to be allowed to continue any more to follow racist recruitment policies, whether under-the-counter or blatant, simply because they are recruiting internationally for countries where racism is a national sport. They need to be held to account.

    I agree with you though; if they can't or won't demonstrate they have changed, then they need to either be prosecuted or move abroad to somewhere more in tune with their ways.
  11. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    But what would regulating recruitment agencies achieve? The school would see the candidate's skin colour in the Skype interview, if it wasn't already implied by their name and where they went to university as on their CV, and recruit accordingly. Regulations may give the illusion of levelling the playing field, but it's still only an illusion.
    alex_teccy and install like this.
  12. Mitochondria1

    Mitochondria1 Occasional commenter

    I don't expect them to do something about it, but at the same time I'm going to point out the hypocrisy in writing a long groveling email about equality in recruitment, with token 'do nothings' on their action plan, while at the same time doing business with organisations with morals that fly in the face of said 'equality policy'.

    It's similar to Disney virtue signaling for the BLM movement, while at the same time shrinking John Boyega's character on the poster of Star Wars in the Chinese market because doing so, makes the movie more appealing to that market. Or Activision claiming to support democracy and freedom, while at the same time banning a player and anyone associated with him for commenting on Tibet and Hong Kong. OR teachers complaining about the lack of diversity in their school, while working as in a school with discriminatory practices, reaping the benefits that come with that discrimination.

    Either take a moral stand or don't. Do not try to force others to take that moral stand if you're not prepared to take significant action yourself.

    Fact of the matter is that recruitment agencies care about their bottom line, and taking a stand on diversity issues in any meaningful way would hurt that bottom line, so they distract with empty gestures and pathetic emails.
    alex_teccy and frodo_magic like this.
  13. install

    install Star commenter

    Agree totally. Sadly some are keen to push the ‘illusion’ side of things - it covers up the actual reality.
  14. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    I think that Mitochondria1 is being a bit negative. Recruitment agencies are caught between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, they want to be thought of, by most international teachers, as fair-minded and progressive, while at the same time many international schools are to be found in countries where racism and other forms of discrimination are par for the course. Yes, it might be possible for some agencies to lean on principals to adopt certain standards in recruitment procedures and no doubt other organizations, such as the Andrew Wigford's TIC, TES, CIS and COBIS, can do their bit as well. However, principals may not always have the last word in these matters, as the school's owners may well decide that they know best and override the principal.

    How many international teachers get jobs through agencies, such as SEARCH, and how many get their positions as a result of adverts in the TES? It would be helpful if we had some hard data for this. If major players, such as the TES, are not going to put their house in order, then there is not much chance that anyone else will. Or maybe I am being unfair to TES.
    alex_teccy and install like this.
  15. install

    install Star commenter

    Completely agree. Good point.
  16. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    I had a quick look at some of the international jobs that are currently being advertised in the TES. Some of them have links to the school's own website, so the advertisement in the TES is really only a small part of the recruitment process. Even if an advertisement itself does not promote discrimination, whether it is on a TES website or the SEARCH website or anywhere else, the school's website and application process may well be biased and discriminatory.
    install likes this.
  17. 576

    576 Established commenter

    My school in South East Asia has the following on the staff.
    Caucasians from the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
    South Asian
    Africans (black and Caucasian)
    South East Asians.
  18. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Yes, 576, but who is REALLY in charge at your school? The principal? Or the school's owner? Or both? O neither? When I was teaching in Qatar, the owners of the school made sure that all of the photos on the school's website featured lots of blonde and blue-eyed students, even though 80% (or more) of the students were Qatari. Sometimes school owners can be persuaded, cajoled and gradually pushed into doing what is right. But often a principal who pushes a bit too hard might find himself or herself looking for a new job.

    On the whole, I think that accreditation is a bit of a joke (CIS probably stands for "Clever International Swindle"). However, even a cynical old hippopotamus has occasionally seen that accreditation can be a vehicle for positive and meaningful change. If that means the recruitment practices are going to be fairer and more transparent, then maybe accreditation is not such a waste of time (and money) after all.

    Is it reasonable and sensible to think that international teacher recruitment agencies really are going to make any major changes sometime soon? No. Does that mean that it is okay for them to do nothing? No.
    alex_teccy likes this.
  19. february31st

    february31st Established commenter

  20. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Lead commenter

    Mrs M and I set up IB schools for two wealthy families in India. Family A was happy for us to appoint black teachers from abroad (it made us look more international) but had a contemptuous attitude to fellow Indians. 'Why do you two care so much about these thirty thousand rupee people?' asked the paterfamilias.

    The head of Family B had a paternalistic attitude to local staff but was a committed racist to whom a black face was anathema and a white face good window-dressing, so he was deeply puzzled when an Indian parent asked for her son to be removed from the English class of one of our British teachers because 'I don't want him to speak with an accent'.
    alex_teccy likes this.

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