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Ex-head of KGSC rigged interviews to drop women

Top female candidates were replaced by men who did not qualify
Sept 29,2017
The former president of Korea Gas Safety Corporation ordered the company’s recruiting team to disqualify seven female applicants by altering their interview scores, Chungju prosecutors said on Wednesday.

Park Ki-dong, who is under detention, has been indicted on charges of business obstruction for illegally interfering with the recruiting process and taking bribes in return for granting promotions.

Prosecutors say Park, when he was in the position, ordered several employees from the human resources management department to manipulate interview scores to exclude seven female employees from the shortlist during the January 2015 and May 2016 recruitment process.

The head of the human resources department, who received the instruction from Park, asked the interviewers to alter the original scores and submit the revised scores to the personnel committee for selection.

The interview scores of all 31 applicants, 20 men and 11 women, were altered so that thirteen male applicants who were originally disqualified were accepted, while seven female candidates who were originally accepted were disqualified. All 11 female applicant’s scores were revealed to have been lowered in the process.

“Because childbirth and maternity leave can make female employment unstable,” prosecutors say Park regularly told his employees, “the company needs to disqualify female applicants by tampering with their interview scores.”

During the tampering process, the female applicant who received the second-highest grade of all the interviewees was ranked eighth and subsequently eliminated, while a male applicant who scored fifth was placed third, and was accepted.

Park also hired three specific applicants by altering their interview scores to satisfy a request by an acquaintance during the January 2015 recruitment cycle.

“Park’s violation of equal-hiring procedures,” said Jo Ki-ryong, head of Chungju Prosecutors’ Office, “stemmed from his personal beliefs about gender.”

According to the Gender Equality Employment Target System, the proportion of males to females, and vice versa, should not exceed 70 percent. But out of a total of 1,341 employees at the Korea Gas Safety Corporation, only 15 percent, or 199, are women.

“That a president of a public service institution intentionally disqualified women while the government is trying to improve gender equality is a serious problem,” said Jo Hye-kyoung, who is currently leading a think tank to improve gender equality. “When the new president for the corporation is appointed, the corporation must ensure its new president has an awareness of gender equality and also investigate whether the recent wrongdoings were part of problems stemming from the corporation as a whole.”

Park is also being investigated for taking about 134 million won ($116,000) in bribes while director of the company from 2012 to 2014. Prosecutors arrested Park along with employees from the human resources department and nine others.

BY CHOI JONG-KWON, KIM MIN-WOOK [enational@joongang.co.kr]