Are you offended by this job ad posted by Singapore based startup Sugar?

- September 26, 2014 3 MIN READ

Sugar is a startup based out of Singapore, the iOS and Android application allows users to seek out cafes, restaurants and outlets, and receive a discount encouraging them to try something new everyday. Essentially it is a mobile city guide crossed with a deals platform.

The founders Priscilla Han, Benjamin Lee and Stephen Barling raised $349,000 in seed funding earlier this year and according to their public timeline will be looking at opening a Series A round in the first half of 2015.

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At the moment the name Sugar is on everyone’s lips – particularly in Singapore and surrounding Asian regions, based on a job ad they posted yesterday. They are currently looking for five people to join the team in various roles, however it has been the role of Lead Software Engineer that has been garnering attention.

Many in the Singapore startup community – in particular programmers have found elements of the job notice to be offensive or discriminatory. Here are a few choice excerpts people have been commenting on. First let’s look at who Sugar do want:

You are ambitious, intense and entrepreneurial, and you dream of doing truly epic shit with your life. You recoil at the thought of having 1.15 kids, balloting for a flat, saving up for a Toyota and waiting to withdraw your CPF savings at 65 (or 70, or 80, or 120).

I mean, I vaguely see the message they are trying to get across here, but there are other – even more comical ways to say ‘we want young, ambitious, dynamic people’ – everyone makes decisions based on a plethora of circumstances unique to them, that doesn’t mean they won’t be a good fit to your organisation. Also, insinuating to future employees that you hate people with kids – never a good idea.

When it comes to what Sugar don’t want in an employee, they get a little more detailed:

You are a shallow social climber whose dream is to work for Goldman Sachs because it “looks good on your CV”. You went to an Ivy League university because it would “look good on your CV”. But you couldn’t get into Goldman Sachs (or Citibank, or HSBC) because you actually have no passion for finance, just like how you want to buy that Louis Vuitton bag (because it will “look good on your social CV”) despite having no passion for design and craftsmanship. Guess what? If you were rejected by Goldman Sachs, you will be rejected by us too. For exactly the same reasons. Advice: try applying for a government job.

You are afraid of failing because failing bruises your delicate and fragile ego. When you do fail, you take steps to cover up your mistakes, and try to push blame onto others. You would rather be passive and remain a passenger, because passengers don’t get blamed when the car crashes. When your boss asks you why you haven’t sorted out an issue with a client, you reply with: “I sent them an e-mail but they haven’t replied yet”. Advice: go to law school.

You are a social misfit. You like technology only because you can’t relate to real people. You spend your weekends playing DOTA and in your sleep you dream about your hero reaching Level 38. At school, you were always the last to get picked on any project or sports team. Having a conversation with you is about as interesting as watching paint dry. Advice: go seek help from a mental health professional.

I mean, whoever put these words together is either a really shit comedian or has a serious case of status syndrome. Again I see the points that are trying to be made, but why not just say that you are looking for a dynamic individual that is passionate about what they do. That the candidate should have initiative and take accountability for their actions, and builds great rapport with all stakeholders?

It’s the last paragraph in what they don’t want that really shits me about this ad to be honest, more so than anything else. First Sugar are knocking geeks, when they are looking for a role, that actually, based on their own “Essential Attributes” section of the advertisement would be best suited to a geek. But more importantly, they are trivialising mental health with that last sentence. In doing so, they are saying that anyone that fits within the description of the preceding paragraph is not normal, and supports the stigma surrounding mental health, which is a massive social issue in Asia.

In China alone, the health ministry estimates that over 100 million people are currently, or have suffered from mental health related issues. Studies in Singapore suggest that around 6.3% of the adult population there will also be touched personal by mental health issues in their lifetime.

Needless to say many people were quite public about how offended they were. (see twitter feed below)

On the other hand, many people that commented on facebook saw it as harmless humour that was not executed well. What side do you fall on?