While it's no surprise to most that sexism in the workplace is still a problem in 2018, rarely is it quite as blatant as this: on Wednesday, Carla Farcoda, a resident of Barcelona, posted a screenshot of an email from a hiring manager explaining he couldn't hire her based on her gender. The email from PR Agency Impulsa Comunicación was written in Spanish, but the BBC translated it; the email said that for the account executive position, the company is "looking for a man," name-dropping clients Carglass and Coca-Cola and implying that being a man was necessary for keeping up with the role.
The tweet quickly went viral, prompting a response from Impulsa Comunicación. "Apologies for the misunderstanding, I have personally spoken to this candidate," Pere Terés, the director of the company, told ABC. "We have invited her [Forcada] in. We are a company of transparency with parity, but in no way is it acceptable under any circumstance for there to be any type of discrimination."
Both Carglass and Coca-Cola Spain also responded with tweets in direct reply to Farcoda's thread, in light of their companies being name-dropped in the exchange between Farcoda and the hiring manager. According to the BBC, Coca-Cola Spain's tweet, which was written in Spanish, read that they have "an inclusive, diverse and equal hiring policy. We are very sorry that our name has been aligned with this discriminatory and unfortunate response." Carglass responded similarly, saying their company "promotes gender equality and acts like these do not represent our position," apologizing to Forcada "and anyone else who has been offended by this message; we are too. We have expressed our position to Impulsa Comunicación," according to the BBC.
According to the BBC, Coca-Cola Spain says it will no longer work with Impulsa Comunicación.
Here is a screenshot of the initial email Forcado received:
According to a translation from Veronica Gutierrez at Mashable, the email reads,
Thanks for sending your CV…We are currently in the selection process but we are looking for a guy because the role requires to work with accounts such as Carglass and Coca-Cola… and believe me, they need a man to be able to deal with the day to day, the visits, knowledge of production, etc. But we will keep your professional history at hand in case we need any future help.
Thanks and good luck!
Along with the screenshot, Forcada wrote in Spanish, as translated by Gutierrez, "Unbelievable to think that some companies still don’t support gender equality in the workplace." Forcada told ABC that she did not respond to the email, saying she was "outraged," which contributed to her decision to post the screenshot.
Since Forcada's tweet, Impulsa Comunicación's website has gone dark.
While stories like this provoke outrage and shock, the truth is that gender discrimination in the workplace is still alive and well, although to a much subtler — and arguably, every bit as damaging — degree. According to a 2017 report from Lean In, even at entry-level, women are 18 percent less likely to be promoted than their male peers; they also point out that despite making of 57 percent of earned undergraduate degrees in the U.S., women only represent 47 percent of entry-level positions. The further up the corporate ladder, the more the gender gap grows — and it's especially apparent for women of color. Progress may be further slowed, Lean In's report indicates, because men are more likely than women to see their workplace as equitable, whereas women are more likely to see it as less fair and as offering less support.
As disappointing as it is that this is still an issue in 2018, it's all the more reason why it's important for people like Forcada to bring it to light — gender discrimination in the workplace, whether it is pay-related, promotion-related, or even just plain old personal safety-related, will continue to be an issue until not just women, but everyone is made aware of the problem.