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If you are a regular social media user you may have noticed that London-based recruitment agency Matching Models, has come under fire for advertising for a personal assistant with “a classic look, brown long hair with b-c cup“.

Discussing the controversial ad, Matching Group owner, Nathalie Jansen said:  “The client who wants the specific cup size is an older gentleman – he has a specific outfit he designed with Christian Dior. He wants a “Jackie O” look. And he wants a lady with a smaller cup size to fit into the outfit.”

Of course, you can’t blame the agency; I mean it’s a daunting proposition for the Matching Models consultant facing the wrath of an unhappy upper-class Englishman when he discovers his new PA can’t fit into her specifically-designed Jackie O outfit.

The Matching Models home page makes it quite clear who it caters for:

Matching Models is the first talent agency specialising in providing companies and private clients with the ideal candidates, both skilled and attractive.

We match the right person for short-term assignments and permanent roles such as PAs, hospitality staff, receptionists, flight attendants, as well as sales and promotional staff worldwide.

It is almost politically incorrect to request someone to work for you that is both attractive as well as professionally equipped with the right set of skills. However, our company understands the importance of having the right people representing your company, because after all, first impressions count!

Underneath are the logos of clients, who include Coca-Cola, Heineken, Renault, Louis Vuitton, and MTV, among others.

Ms. Jansen’s LinkedIn profile states:

My name is Nathalie and I was born in Belgium. I am of Dutch and Ukrainian descent. Having grown up under a unique set of circumstances in my childhood, life has given me with a thirst for knowledge and a desire to travel across the world to try and make something of myself.  It wasn’t easy being a single mom to find a job without any formal education and on top of that have no family support in a foreign country. But, I persevered and set out to become an entrepreneur at the young age of only 20. 

Ms. Jansen’s LinkedIn profile also states she has (varying) proficiency in seven languages (English, Dutch, French, Hebrew, Flemish, Afrikaans, and German, since you asked).

Matching Models commenced business in 2007 and now The Matching Group states it conducts business in 43 countries by providing “services in events, media, PR, marketing and employment”.

Ms. Jansen’s business is very successful and she has proven herself to be an astute and highly successful entrepreneur (and, I am sure you won’t be surprised to learn, she is also very attractive).

So what to make of the recent publicity about the job advert for the Jackie O dress-alike (and the recruitment ethos of the company publishing such an ad)?

The BBC’s report noted:

“Employment lawyer James Lynas, partner at Winckworth Sherwood, said the advert was “clearly unlawful”, adding anyone could complain to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, who have powers to intervene.”

The Independent (UK) reported:

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) called the firm’s practices “appalling, unlawful and demeaning to women” and the EHRC Chief Executive Rebecca Hilsenrath said it would be writing to Matching Models “asking for them to clarify their hiring practices immediately”.

New Zealand’s #1 recruitment blogger, Jonathan Rice, offered his view last Friday.

I have written in detail about hiring on appearance in a previous blog.

Ms. Jansen appears to be reveling in the publicity with her company’s Facebook page republishing articles on the controversy.

On Monday they couldn’t help themselves have a little crow about the direct business impact of all the publicity.

Even though Ms. Jansen is risking the direct wrath of the (UK) law with her agency’s unapologetic discriminatory approach to hiring she plows straight ahead. It seems she believes that any action taken against her company will be trifling compared to the upside she gains from the clear, and well-publicised, focus of her business.

I’d love to know more about Ms. Jansen’s business but I suspect that if I put in a request for an interview, her ‘people’ would take one look at my LinkedIn photo and send me a very polite rejection.

I don’t know of any Australia or New Zealand agencies taking such an unabashed approach to ‘politically incorrect’ hiring but if you know of any please drop me a line or leave details in the comments section of the blog.


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Fiona Shields

Interesting to see that Matching Models is recruiting for an event at Melbourne Airport in December….travel expenses paid. Guess this is how organisers get around our discrimination laws.

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