Teen applying for retail job told to learn Chinese

Independent News & Media

A TEENAGER applying for a Saturday job at The Body Shop was told she needed to speak Chinese to get the position.

Zoe Churchman, 18, took her CV into the Cambridge branch of the cosmetics retail chain but was informed that she was lacking the necessary language skills.

The manager asked whether she spoke the language, and "when she said no, he told her they were 'looking for someone who speaks Chinese'," her father told the BBC.

Mr Churchman thought his daughter must have misunderstood the manager's words, but when he did his own investigation he was told the same thing.

"The manager said he thought the language requirement was odd, but he said he had checked it out with the head office," he said. The manager apparently told Mr Churchman that such requirements were "the norm".

Mr Churchman said it was "absolutely ridiculous" that his daughter, a sixth form student, should have to speak another language for a part-time job in the retail sector.

The Body Shop issued a statement to the Corporation, insisting job candidates are not excluded on the basis of language skills alone.

"The Body Shop believes in equality and seeks to find the right person for the job based on skills, regardless of age, sex, race and nationality," it said.

"Language skills are an advantage for candidates applying for retail sales positions as we have multi-cultural customer appeal and it's great when required to speak to customers in their own language.

"In this instance the franchise manager has not followed the company recruitment procedure and we will be following up with him directly."

Topics:  editors picks employment languages retail

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