May 21, 2007
SUBJECT: Hiring Discrimination at World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO)
Dr. Kamil Idris, Director-General
World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO)
Headquarters34 Chemin des Colombettes,
CH-1211 GENEVA 20
Tel: (+41 22) - 338 81 61 or 338 95 47
Fax: (+41 22) - 338 82 80
Dear Dr. Idris:
This is not a misdirected job application, or mass email, so please do read to the end. It regards a legal matter and requires your urgent attention. As a fellow alumni of Ohio University, I appeal to your sense of justice to end the age discrimination within WIPO.
On May 21, 2007, I was doing a job search on the internet for consulting positions. I came across one I quite liked and for which I bring excellent skills and experience. It is described as “Training Director” to establish training programs in the Caribbean and Latin America concerning intellectual property rights. Since I live in Barbados and have a doctorate in education and have successfully defended my own software copyrights in a US Superior Court, I feel I can excel in this position, even though the job posting calls for an attorney.
I may not have a formal law degree, but I do know the law. This particular job posting (http://www.wipo.int/edocs/jobdocs/en/2007/wipo_vacancy_p1860.pdf) for a Training Officer, (P1860) includes a stated age restriction as follows:
Age limit: less than age 55 at the date on which the appointment takes effect.
I had a hard time believing that a world-wide organization, in 2007, could be so blatant about publicizing their age discrimination. Not wanting to jump to conclusions about senior WIPO managers and directors practicing blatant age discrimination, I did my research first. I thought maybe some young snippet aged 25 might have slipped that age limit into this particular job description, not understanding that persons over age 55 still have sex, run 10Ks, and have active brain cells. When you’re 25, you often think people over 40 are “finished.” It’s a mistake of youth. So I checked all nine jobs posted on May 21, 2007, at http://www.wipo.int/hr/en/ and sure enough, every one of them listed the same age limitation of 55 years. It’s a standard format WIPO uses for all its job postings.
I am not eligible for social security in the United States until age 66. I fully expect to keep working until age 70 and beyond. If I can't work because of age discrimination, then who is going to pay my bills? WIPO's policy, if allowed to continue and spread to other organizations, will create a bracket of unemployed people prior to their retirement age. Are governments of the world prepared to provide them with welfare payments? Are our children prepared to foot the bill for their perfectly healthy parents?
I took a look at the white men who comprise WIPO’s top management team of deputy and assistant director generals (http://www.wipo.int/wipo_magazine/en/2007/01/article_0007.html), and I’d bet money they are over age 55. I just can’t believe that every last director doesn’t know WIPO is practicing age discrimination. At the very least, WIPO’s Human Resource manager needs to be guided immediately into a new career. (This is an action item, in case you missed it.)
Conceding that it is possible that not all countries or regions of the world have enacted equal employment hiring policies, I did some research on WIPO. Maybe there was some little jurisprudence WIPO’s found that allows age discrimination. After all, women still receive 48 lashes for drinking and 100 lashes for having sex outside of marriage in Iran under Shari’a law, so who’s to say age discrimination is not sanctioned somewhere in the world? The world is not fair. You, of all people, know that. You are from the Sudan where genocide is occurring as I write this.
The first sentence on WIPO’s page entitled “What Is WIPO?” at http://www.wipo.int/about-wipo/en/what_is_wipo.html states: “The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations.” WIPO has a whopping 184 member countries (http://www.wipo.int/members/en/). So you are not small potatoes. WIPO’s policy of age discrimination in hiring is really egregious.
I diligently looked up the United Nations code of conduct, revised and posted on the internet May 3, 2007. The UN’s position forbidding age discrimination is unequivocal. I have excerpted the relevant code below:
UN SUPPLIER CODE OF CONDUCT
UN Supplier Code of Conduct Rev.03 - May 2007
UN Charter: The values enshrined in the United Nations (UN) Charter, respect for fundamental human rights, social justice and human dignity, and respect for the equal rights of men and women, serve as the overarching goals that suppliers to the UN are expected to achieve.
Monitoring and Evaluation:
. . .Notwithstanding the aspirational character of the principles contained in this Code of Conduct, UN Suppliers must understand that if they are awarded a contract with the United Nations, the United Nations General Conditions of Contract are an essential part of UN contracts and, therefore, legally enforceable against UN contractors.
Page 2, item 7:
Discrimination: The UN does not tolerate any form of discrimination in hiring and employment practices on the ground or race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, physical ability, health condition, political opinion, nationality, social or ethnic origin, union membership or marital status.
I hope your lawyers won’t argue that the UN Code of Conduct only applies to its suppliers, not to itself. If so, I’ll work my way up the food chain, like to the UN member countries, the US for starters.
According to another UN agency web site (http://www.unu.edu/employment/), mandatory retirement age is 62, not 55:
"The mandatory retirement age is 62. Staff members separating from UNU before reaching that age are entitled to either a lump-sum withdrawal settlement instead of a pension, or (if they have at least five years of contributory service) a deferred retirement benefit, or (if, in addition, they are over 55 years of age) an early retirement pension at a reduced rate."
A further internet search (http://www.un.org/Depts/OHRM/examin/e-not07.pdf) identified another UN organization for English interpreters that discriminates based on age. They use this bogus justification:
"6. Applicants applying for the examination must:
(a) Be 56 years of age or under by the deadline of submission of applications. This requirement is based on the Organization’s need to recruit staff for language posts who can serve for a reasonable period of time during which they will have the opportunity to progress through the Department’s career structure before reaching the mandatory retirement age of 62 years;"
I might point out that the WIPO job vacancy I was interested in was for only a two-year appointment.
I took a look at your job application that one must download and use to apply for any and all WIPO jobs. Your discrimination practice gets worse. The WIPO job application form requires the applicant to state his/her date of birth (presumably to make sure he/she is not over 55), and also to include a photo. The use of photos on job applications in the United States was banned some forty years ago. Photos were notoriously used to discriminate against Afro-Americans in hiring. I ascertain that if WIPO wishes to achieve diversity, then it is sufficient for each applicant to state his or her nationality. Please, Dr. Idris, eliminate the photo requirement on the application form.
I have appended the job postings of May 21, 2007, to this letter. The WIPO application form may be viewed at http://www.wipo.int/hr/en/application_form.html or seen as a .pdf file at http://www.wipo.int/export/sites/www/hr/en/vacancy/pdf/form.pdf.
So, Director General Kamil Idris, where does that leave us? You need to fix this problem, and I hope you’ll do it voluntarily, because I do not intend to rest my case until this is corrected. The irony to this situation is that, according to internet stories, you, yourself, felt discriminated against for your young age and misstated your date of birth when hired by WIPO in 1982, overstating your age by nine years.
I’d rather work with you than against you. I think protecting intellectual property is important, but there is simply no defense for an organization of lawyers to be breaking anti-discrimination laws and flaunting the UN Code of Ethics. Shame on all of you.
I look forward to your reply of a policy change regarding WIPO hiring practices. And maybe you’ll want to hire me for that position.
Amy L. Beam, Ed.D.
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) - Careers and Recruitment
Project Manager, grade P.4 (P1867)Research and Development Section, PCT Information Systems Division, Sector of the PCT and Patents, Arbitration and Mediation Center, and Global Intellectual Property IssuesClosing date for receipt of applications: Jul 13, 2007
Head, grade P.5 (P1866)Information Technology Support Section, Patent Information and IP Statistics Service, Sector of the PCT and Patents, Arbitration and Mediation Center, and Global Intellectual Property IssuesClosing date for receipt of applications: Jul 13, 2007
Coordinator, grade P.2 (P1865)Receiving and Processing Team, Processing Service, PCT Operations Division, Sector of the PCT and Patents, Arbitration and Mediation Center, and Global Intellectual Property IssuesClosing date for receipt of applications: Jun 27, 2007
Legal Officer, grade P.3 (P1864)International Registration Systems Legal Service, Sector of Trademarks, Industrial Designs and Geographical IndicationsClosing date for receipt of applications: Jun 27, 2007
Program Officer, grade P.3 (P1863)Technical Assistance and Capacity Building Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean, Technical Assistance and Capacity Building SectorClosing date for receipt of applications: Jun 27, 2007
Head, grade P.5 (P1862)Expenditures Section, Finance Department, General Affairs and Administration SectorClosing date for receipt of applications: Jun 6, 2007
Training Officer, grade P.3 (P1860)WIPO Worldwide Academy and Division of Human Resources Development, Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Development and the WIPO Worldwide AcademyClosing date for receipt of applications: Jun 12, 2007
Senior Investigation Officer, grade P.4 (P1859)Internal Audit and Oversight DivisionClosing date for receipt of applications: Jun 12, 2007
Translator, grade P.3 (P1828)Chinese Translation Section, Language Service, Administrative Support Services and General Assembly AffairsClosing date for receipt of applications: Jun 14, 2007