JANZZ Mindsetter – Interview with Dr. Chia-Jung Tsay

JANZZ Mindsetter is about critical mindsets. It provides space for critical voices to offer insights into HR, recruiting, digital transformation, labor market issues such as gender and minority discrimination and many more topical issues.

Dr. Chia-Jung Tsay on biases against strivers

Dr. Chia-Jung Tsay (UCL School of Management) studies the psychological influences on decision making and interpersonal perception, and how expertise and biases affect professional selection and advancement. Dr. Tsay’s work has been published in leading academic journals and featured in media outlets including the BBC, Economist, Harvard Business Review, Nature, and NPR, and in television programs, radio stations, and newspapers across 48 countries. For us, she answered three questions regarding her latest work titled “Naturals and strivers: Preferences and beliefs about sources of achievement“.


How do you position your argument against the idea that hard work and perseverance are key to achieve success?

There’s a lot of great research out there that suggests that differences in achievement likely reflect deliberate effort and persistence, rather than only innate talent. So it’s interesting that we may have little awareness that we actually have a preference for the natural, and we even sacrifice objective qualifications to hire the natural – and yet it may well be the consistent and persevering individual who achieves more in the long run.

Why are we willing to give up better-qualified candidates in order to hire those believed to be naturals?

Delving into how/why the naturalness bias develops is of great interest for future research. One possibility is that we have a preference for potential over even demonstrated achievement. It is also possible that natural talent is attributed more to stable internal characteristics, and thus be perceived as an immutable, more authentic, and more certain path to success.

Your research suggests that our bias for natural talent is unconscious. How do you think this bias could be circumvented then, e.g. in recruiting?

Further work would be necessary to reveal more specific levers through which we may attenuate the effects of the naturalness bias. If the way in which this bias functions overlaps with those of more established biases, we may consider several possible solutions at the point of performance evaluation. These solutions might include ensuring more precise and tangible metrics of assessment, confronting evaluators with highly achieving exemplars of both naturalness and striving, allowing evaluators to have the time and cognitive resources to fully consider the metrics that are important and valued for actual performance, or simply filtering out any candidate application materials that reference sources of achievement.

JANZZ Mindsetter – Interview with Dr. Wen Hua

JANZZ Mindsetter is about critical mindsets. It offers space for critical voices to offer insights into HR, recruiting, digital transformation, labor market issues such as gender and minority discrimination and many more topical issues.

Dr. Wen Hua on gender issues in the Chinese Job market

Dr. Wen Hua has rich experience in research and international development in the field of gender. She obtained the M.Phil. Degree in Social Anthropology at University of Bergen of Norway in 2005 and received the Ph.D. in Anthropology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2010. She was a visiting fellow of Gender Research Programme at Utrecht University of Netherlands in 2007. She has published several papers on gender issues in English and Chinese journals. She is the author of Buying Beauty: Cosmetic surgery in China, published by Hong Kong University Press 2013.


Why do more and more Chinese women undergo cosmetic surgeries despite a plethora of reports on the possible side effects?

Since the reforms in the early 1980s, Chinas has been one of the fastest growing economies in the world. The uncertainty and instability created by the drastic and dramatic economic, socio-cultural and political changes in China have produced immense anxiety that is experienced by women both mentally and corporeally. The economic reform has resulted in fierce competition in the job market and produced much pressure on young women to get an edge to stand out in the fierce job market. Meanwhile, despite dramatic social changes, some traditional gender norms that prize women’s beauty over ability remain remarkably unchanged, which leads people to value women’s physical appearance in the workplace. The rapid social transitions lead people to grasp every opportunity presented, and cosmetic surgery is therefore viewed by some women as an investment to gain “beauty capital” for one’s future life in a rapidly changing and fiercely competitive society.

How does beauty matter in job recruitment in China?

In my book, I argues that some women view “Being good-looking is capital,” that is, an attractive appearance as a set of tangible and portable personal assets that are convertible into financial or social capital that can give them an edge in the fierce job market, where occupational segregation of female labor in the service industry and employment discrimination based on gender, appearance, height and age widely exist. In the past decade, it was not unusual that we saw that besides education background and work experience, job advertisements specified gender, age, marriage status, and even height and appearance such as “above-average looking,” “good-looking,” or “height over 1.65 meters.” Female job applicants, especially young graduates who already have fewer opportunities than their male counterparts, have to face more prejudice and discrimination based on appearance during their job-hunting. Within these fewer opportunities, when age and appearance matter, it is not surprising why some Chinese women regard beauty as a capital in the brutal competition for jobs.

What could be done in order to reduce the pressure on graduates to undergo cosmetic surgery?

Over the years, I saw that job advertisements, which require specific gender, age, marriage status, height and physical appearance, are less and less to be seen openly in job adverts. But I think that discrimination in employment still exists in China’s workplace. The discrimination has changed from overt to recessive, while the situation might be even worse because hidden prejudice and discrimination against women is harder to avoid and punish. According to the Third Survey of Chinese Women’s Social Status in 2010, more than 72 percent of women had a perception of “not being hired or promoted because of gender” discrimination. I think that to safeguard women’s rights and interests, the authorities should put more effort and effectively punish gender discrimination in employment, which can also reduce the pressure of graduates to undergo cosmetic surgery.


JANZZ Mindsetter – Interview with Kamal Karanth

JANZZ Mindsetter is about critical mindsets. It offers space for critical voices to offer insights into HR, recruiting, digital transformation, labor market issues such as gender and minority discrimination and many more topical issues.

Kamal Karanth on Issues in the Indian Job Market

Kamal Karanth, Managing Director of Kelly Services and KellyOCG India, is the critical voice that opens our blog series JANZZ Mindsetter. Kamal has over 20 years of experience in the recruitment industry. Kelly Services is a leader in providing workforce solutions, providing employment to more than 550,000 employees annually. In this short interview, he reports on current challenges in the Indian job market.

JANZZ Mindsetter: Kamal Karanth

What are the biggest challenges you are facing in the IT staffing market in India at the moment?

Skills: One of the challenges that we continuously face is the demand and supply gap in India. In the IT sector, we see an abundance of opportunities but do not see talent that is skilled enough to fill these roles as the technology change and the skill upgrade pace are not matching. Companies always find it difficult to find good candidates with skills, especially in PHP, Ruby-on-Rails, Python, Android and iOS.

Mobility: Also, India being a vast nation, mobilizing talent to the required location is a challenge at times. IT talent demand is primarily in NCR (Northern Capital region which consists of Delhi, Noida & Gurgaon), Pune (West) and South (Bangalore, Hyderabad & Chennai). Vast IT Talent is concentrated in the South of India and recently have become less mobile as more opportunities are available down south.

Expectations mismatch: We also see that IT talent tend to be ambitious in their salary expectations. The standard hikes in IT are typically around 25-30%. However, we see talent negotiating for hikes around 40-50% which upsets the budgets of organizations.

How do you encounter these challenges?

Our experience in staffing for more than 60 years helps us. Our recruiters are seasoned and competent, and they understand the talent dynamics. We continuously map new technologies and the talent who are well versed with that, we build talent communities in advance so that we can offer them to IT Companies in time. We have offices in all the IT Talent hubs and have developed a network with talent, we try to offer employment to talent who are in the same city to avoid mobility issues, on candidates expectations, our seasoned recruiters use a blend of their experience and relationship to set realistic expectations with candidates. Candidates appreciate our experience and candor while making career moves and it brings the desirable win-win between hiring companies and candidates.

How many engineers are jobless in India at the moment and what happens to them?

It’s difficult to estimate this number as we don’t have a formal way of capturing it. But it is substantial. Engineering colleges have been springing up at a fast rate in India in the last few years. Their number has gone up from a not too modest 1,511 colleges in 2006-07 to an astoundingly high 3,345 in 2014-15. The state of Andhra Pradesh alone has more than 700 colleges. 1.5 million engineers graduate from India every year. Out of the 1.5 million, 60% do not find jobs. Some of them opt for higher education, some of them do non related jobs in sales or BPOs to ensure they remain employed to survive.