Nenad Milanović, CEO of COING – Homophobic candidates have no place in our team

A domestic IT company is fighting for the rights of the LGBTQ + population in Serbia

Serbian IT company COING, which is the creator of the world’s leading software tool for monitoring working hours called Clockify and a team communication tool Pumble, has introduced a non-standard novelty in its process of selecting future employees – revealing homophobic attitudes of candidates during job interviews.

Nenad Milanović, CEO of COING

In order to achieve that, during a job interview in this software company, candidates have to answer the following questions: “What do you think about the LGBTQ+ population?”, “What do you think about the position of the LGBTQ+ community in Serbia?” and the like. Depending on the answer, various sub-questions follow, all with the aim of determining a clear position of the candidate, i.e. whether there is and how pronounced is the degree of their propensity for discrimination. The answers to these questions are crucial in deciding whether a candidate will be rated as a desirable member of the company’s team.

The company’s persistence in the fight against homophobia and discrimination is also demonstrated by the fact that, in the early 2021, it went a step further and publicly launched an initiative not to hire people who spread homophobic ideas and attitudes. This move is a novelty on our IT scene and with domestic companies in general.  Nenad Milanović, the company’s CEO, talks more about it, while highlighting that the atmosphere in COING is liberal and inclusive, and that the company has decided to take that step because of their employees, as well as their global activities and the fact that people who use their applications come from various religions, races and sexual orientations.

We work and hang out with our colleagues in a relaxed atmosphere. As our employees feel comfortable talking about their problems, it quickly became clear that about 10 percent of our colleagues belong to the LGBTQ+ population. By launching an initiative not to employ people who cultivate homophobic ideas and attitudes, we are fighting, first and foremost, for the rights of our colleagues,” Nenad points out and adds that in any company in the world, between 5 to 10 percent of employees are members of the LGBTQ+ population but are hiding that fact from their colleagues and employers.

As Nenad says, their insight into the existing research shows that as many as 49% of the population of Serbia is homophobic:

Although Serbia has made good progress on these issues, there is still a lot of work to be done. Due to the various political and economic challenges we have gone through, the current figures are nothing to be proud of. As a society, we have many problems and we need to solve them one by one. The rights of the LGBTQ+ population are a problem that we can solve quickly and easily without spending taxpayers’ money. Challenges that are that easily resolved should become our priority.”

As a society, we have many problems and we need to solve them one by one.

The experiences so far regarding job interviews in COING have shown that every fourth candidate has expressed intolerance.

We employ people based on a set of criteria which define the required skills and competencies needed for a specific position, as well as the way the job is done. When we recognize that someone may be discriminatory or intolerant of our employees, customers or clients, our conclusion is that that person would not be successful in their work and based on that we do not enter into an employment relationship with them. As of recently, in our job vacancy ads, we have been clearly stating the “do not apply” policy for people who believe that members of the LGBTQ+ population in Serbia should not be allowed to marry or exercise other rights that they are entitled to,” says the founder of COING.

In addition to homophobia, the company actively fights against all forms of stereotypes and discrimination, and since almost 50% of their employees are women, they intensively promote women’s rights too.

Misogynist jokes and jokes based on stereotypes about women are not welcome in our team. When it comes to romantic relationships within a collective, they are generally welcome except among employees who work in the same chain of command No manager (male or female) can forge a relationship with a member of the team that they manage directly or indirectly,” says Nenad and underlines that urgent modification of all laws should be carried out in Serbia so that they become more gender neutral.

“Members of the LGBTQ+ community must be allowed to marry and have children, as well as exercise all other rights that heterosexual individuals have,” says Mr. Milanović, adding that all companies should use their influence in the best possible way.

Close your doors to homophobes and send a clear message that you don’t tolerate discrimination in any form. Although you probably don’t know it, at least 10% of your employees are members of the LGBTQ+ population, so you are fighting for their rights. Enable your colleagues to be who they really are.. As long as there are discussions about the rights of the LGBTQ+ community in Serbia, we cannot call ourselves a cool country. If we analyze global trends, there is a very clear correlation between tolerance and economic development of society. Tolerant countries are more economically successful,” Mr. Milanović says.

By Ivana Karanović

Photo credits: Private archive

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