Sydney creative advertising agency Banjo has been forced to apologise after allegedly making a racist remark to a job candidate.
B&T tried to contact Surungi Emily Hohol for comment after she posted on Facebook that “due to being brown and Indian (even though I’m Sri Lankan) and have lived in Australia for 27 years”, she was told by a creative ad agency in Sydney that she would not be suitable for the role “as they already had two other Indian people”.
“Direct quote: ‘the client might be alarmed by having three brown skin people attend a meeting’”, she wrote.
“The injustice of racism – I’m livid and seriously irritated by this.
“Seriously what is wrong with people…”
Banjo issued a statement in response to the allegation.
“In the course of expanding the account management team at Banjo, an unfortunate misunderstanding has occurred during an interview with a candidate, for which Banjo would like to offer an unreserved apology,” the statement said.
“The senior staff member who conducted what was a very positive interview made a casual remark at the end of the interview, which was intended to set the person at ease. Unfortunately it was taken out of context and has since gained some notoriety on social media.
“Needless to say, the Banjo staff member is deeply upset by the incident, which occurred yesterday. There has been a lot of media attention on the issue of equality – including race, gender and sexual orientation, and age – in recent times and we acknowledge that emotions can run high.
“In Banjo’s seven-year history, the agency’s recruitment policy has always encompassed not only hiring the best possible talent, but also ensuring that the staff spans all ages, genders and ethnicities.”
Banjo managing director Andrew Varasdi said the interview feedback hew received from the recruitment company was “very positive” and addressed the possibility for the candidate to explore further opportunities with Banjo.
“Our position on this remains unchanged. When I learned of the situation, I immediately contacted both the candidate and our staff member to offer my empathy and support,” he said.
“We couldn’t possibly deliver on our promise that our clients come first, if our own staff did not reflect the Australian community. We are always prepared to offer our clients the best advice to connect with their customers.”
Mr Varasidi said he had arranged to meet with Ms Hohol this morning “to reassure her of our policies on recruitment”.
“Banjo’s current staff includes 50 per cent women in senior management and 50 per cent women overall, and half of the staff are from ethnic backgrounds including India, Asia, UK and South America,” he said.
“We are extremely proud of the make-up of our talented staff, which is reflective of the diversity of Australia. We hope that we will be judged on our record, and that all candidates who consider joining us at Banjo will do so too.”