UK
04/11/2013 11:44 GMT | Updated 04/11/2013 14:11 GMT

'Male Candidates Only': 'Sexist' Advert In Sun, Guardian, To Please Clients In Middle East

A recruitment firm has sparked heated debate online after it placed adverts on both the Sun and Guardian websites, which barred women applicants because it will involve "work in the Middle East".

Design agency Proctor & Stevenson said the prohibition of female candidates was added entirely without their knowledge. The original advert, posted by Pure Recruitment in Bristol, was for an "Account Director", specifying the job would "include clients in the Middle East".

The advert continued:

Please note; Due to the travel and work restrictions for women in this area, we need to limit our candidate selection to males only.

But Pure Recruitment's Rebecca Hodgson told HuffPost UK she had misinterpreted her client's brief, and apologised profusely for the error. "There was a genuine misunderstanding," she said. "The advert is being taken down. I know that they are an equal opportunities employer, who would be devastated if this advert was taken as discriminatory."

The agency, whose managing director Roger Proctor who was given an MBE foe services to design in 2012, told HuffPost UK: "This statement from Pure Recruitment has apparently appeared in the Guardian and the Sun in reference to an Account Director’s vacancy at Proctor & Stevenson Middle East Limited without our knowledge or authorization of its content.

"Proctor & Stevenson Middle East Limited and Proctor & Stevenson Limited disassociate themselves from this statement and it does not follow the publication instructions given to Pure Recruitment by ourselves.

"Indeed, if we had been given the chance to see what was to be published by Pure Recruitment we would have stopped it immediately as it does not follow our collective equal opportunities policies. We were not given that opportunity.

"We categorically do not condone discrimination of any sort and have an envied reputation for integrity and fair play."

The post was first flagged on the Guardian website by the Guido Fawkes blog.

The Huffington Post UK has since discovered versions on the Sun website and Reed.co.uk, amongst others.

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The advert published by Pure Recruitment on the Guardian, the Sun, and Reed.co.uk

The job description was also posted by Proctor & Stevenson itself, on the website 'Southwest Creative jobs' - albeit without the demand for male-only candidates.

The agency's own version, says the role involves "international opportunities, including the Middle East and possibly the Far East. Experience in working with Arabic clients would be an advantage, but is not a prerequisite." It lists the location of the role as Bristol.

The Sun newspaper has now removed the advert from its site, as has the Guardian.

A spokesman for the Guardian told huffPost UK: "Guardian Jobs is committed to equal opportunities and we follow guidelines set out by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

"Any advert found to be in breach of these guidelines will be removed from the site. In this case the advert was uploaded by an external client and has now been taken down."