'Female Candidates Preferred' - Vestra Inet and the Benefits of Bad Press

Thursday, December 03, 2015 1:00 PM

By now, nearly everyone has heard of Ontario web design firm Vestra Inet's cringe-worthy job posting on LinkedIn for a 'Content Writer/SEO Specialist', that included the now infamous ending line that stated "the position requires filling in the responsibilities of a receptionist, so female candidates are preferred." Blatant idiocy and grotesque sexism aside, I'm willing to bet that Vestra Inet has actually benefitted from this publicity in a lot of ways when it comes to organic search engine ranking and general SEO/visibility - proving true the age-old adage that 'no publicity is bad publicity'... but it should be.

In a fresh, private browser, 'Concord Web Design' (the Ontario city outside of Toronto where Vestra resides) yields quite a few results with Vestra Inet sitting on page one in the 6th rank slot, about midway down the page. For the incredibly competitive 'Toronto web design' keyword they rank at a more humble, but still impressive, place on page five. For such a modest site (by 'modest' I mean quite shoddily designed with some really questionable animation choices) to be ranking so comparatively well, it's clear that attention has been picking up for them lately (assuming their subtly titled blog posts such as 'HOW SEO TORONTO SERVICES CAN BENEFIT YOUR BUSINESS' haven't been doing the trick).

This is unfortunate in that a lot of people visiting the site either won't know about the attitudes of the company they may enter into business with, or they (like myself, before writing this piece) would have forgotten the name of the company who were rooted in the Mad Men era of hiring practices. The amount of mention from reputable sites such as Buzzfeed, Vox, the National Post, Yahoo News, and the Huffington Post - not to mention social media discussions - have surely skyrocketed traffic and search queries for Vestra Inet over the past month. Sure, the people visiting may have been doing so after reading about the job posting incident with no intention of hiring the firm - but they have unknowingly paved the way for the firm to be more easily found in the future once the hype surrounding their error dies down - thus increasing visibility and potential business inquiries. Thus creating the inherent problem of questionable companies gaining more profit than reputable ones who don't equate the 'role' of a woman with that of someone who answers telephones and delivers typewritten messages to her male superiors.

Hope, in this situation, can be found in the fact that upon Googling, simply, 'Vestra Inet' one is faced with a myriad of articles and think-pieces discussing the audacity of last month's job posting. Where most people do a little internet digging before making a purchase these days, we can only put faith in the prevalence of these articles dissuading any potential client away from this (and other) misogynistic-centric and otherwise unwholesome business deals. While there may be a very potent case for the whole 'there's no such thing as bad press' argument, as outlined above, there is hope that the nature of permanence when publishing anything on the internet will keep the 'good guys' on top while exposing those less than desirable.

Bridget VanWart

Bridget VanWart

Bridget VanWart is Div1's newest addition, joining the team after graduating with a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of New Brunswick. When she's not serving as Div1's client liaison and administrative assistant, she can be found Instagramming pretty things she stumbles upon around the city.

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