There is nothing like a good corporate faux-pas to set tongues wagging and this week has seen Russian social media circles lit up with what purported to be some HR advice appearing to have emanated from Russia’s most prominent consumer lender.
The advice was the sort of thing most global companies are quick to apologise for lest they find themselves in conflict with anti-discrimination laws, and then shareholders about the fees involved. That may not be quite so much of a risk in Russia, but it has shone a rare light yet again on some of the workplace practices of corporate Russia.
On July 4, Russian Internet users noticed that the #Yandex search engine began to index Google Docs mdocs. Although Yandex claims that “it indexes only the open part of the Internet” Russian users have managed to discover numerous documents that weren’t intended for the public domain. This weeks nugget included HR instructions allegedly adopted in Russia’s leading consumer bank #Tinkoff Bank. The original file has been deleted but a copy remains available and it has attracted a lot of attention in Russia’s business and social media.
The document named “Stop factors” is apparently addressed to Tinkoff’s HR department and contains the list of strict criteria leading to an immediate rejection of any job application. The factors explicitly stated in the document included gays, “those who need to pray during the day” and even “people of the Negroid race”. The factors, which differed between divisions of the organisation also included “previous experience in the security services or media”, a ban on people from Russia’s Caucasus and even a surprising edict about “people of the Negroid race” in the marketing department.
An accompanying instruction specifically stipulated that HR managers must not disclose the true reason for the application rejection, but instead should reply after some time with a rejection citing “senior management” as the primary factor.
Amidst a lot of sniggering in Moscow’s corporate world the story has even attracted coverage across the Russian media. Tinkoff may have been sprung this week, but it may not be the only Russian corporate with a few idiosyncrasies when it comes to hiring.
Vedomosti acknowledged that discrimination is widespread, despite a raft of legislation designed to prevent it, with Yulia Zamyatina, a partner at Alimirzoev and Partners legal firm, noting that specifying age, gender and other non-business related characteristics in job descriptions has been banned since 2013, and CornerStone recruiting’s Vladislav Bykhanov adding weight to the factor which could lead to discrimination. Bykhanov added that generally companies are smarter than putting such instructions in writing, and provide guidance verbally, and that this instance could hit Tinkoff’s reputation.
Currently it doesn’t look as though the London listed bank will face any sanction. A Tinkoff spokesperson stated that the advice certainly wasn’t company policy, but smothered the admission it had been created by a Tinkoff employee for ‘ambiguous intentions’ with an extra large serving of corporate gobbledygook.
‘Of course, there are no such rules in our organization. The “Tinkoff” group strongly opposes any discrimination of a person based on any signs. The group employs employees of different nationalities, sexual orientations, ages and religions, including those listed in this strange text. For us, the main thing is the professional qualities of the employee and his ability to make a high contribution to the shareholder value of the group.’
A representative of Rostrud, Russia’s federal service for labour and employment, told Vedomosti that Tinkoff Bank employment instructions are no grounds for any unscheduled inspections, adding that the documents contained no suggestion “pointing to risk of life or health of employees” and that any employment refusal could be appealed in court under Russian law.