The Fallacy Of Legislating Hiring Practices

LawsIn Singapore, a few companies have made the news because they posted job ads worded in such a manner as to imply a preference for foreign workers over Singaporeans. This violated some legislation which stipulated that companies ought to have a certain percentage of Singaporeans already in their headcount before they could proceed to hire foreigners, and/ or they needed to make reasonable attempts at hiring Singaporeans first before proceeding to hire foreigners. Singapore is famous for campaigns and enacting laws to regulate behaviour, so the practice of legislating hiring practices should come as no surprise.

Really? What were those companies actually looking for? Did they really have a preference for foreigners? Well, perhaps if you ran a restaurant and you advertised that all your chefs were experienced chefs born and bred in Szechuan, you might have gotten some leeway. Other than things like that, why did those companies advertise for foreigners? Did they have a special need for Sherpas because they were operating open-air gyms on the rooftop of Singapore’s first 10,000-foot high skyscraper? Of course not. They advertised for foreigners because of at least two perceptions: That foreign labour was cheap, hardworking and exploitable. That Singaporeans were expensive, choosy, not as hardworking and not as exploitable.

I’m one of those weirdos who advocate self over legislated regulation. Independently increasing own value over having an artificial value assigned via legislation. Of course, I fully agree that laws ought to be enacted to protect those who are weak. What I wonder is whether Singaporeans who complain about not being able to find jobs, about their jobs being taken away by foreigners, are really as helpless as they sound. Perhaps it’s mostly our fault, for raising a generation of helpless victims. If we Singaporeans are to get the jobs we crave so much, consider how desirable we are in the eyes of those who need business partners to fill them. Would we really deliver that sort of value? Any more questions?

Flip side. If our business culture exalts exploitation over value and growth all round, for all stakeholders, then we deserve what we got and more is to come.

What makes me desirable to a hirer? What makes my goods and services desirable? What’s so attractive about me? Why should anyone want to come and work for me, or with me? Answer these questions well, and you won’t need to be needled about fallacious hiring legislation. Take it out of the equation now! Make sure your hiring practices are a reflection of your company’s principles!

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