In our 20 years of experience as a professional Nanny agency, we have heard clients make every request in the book. For the most part, we try our absolute best to accommodate families’ requests and help them find a Nanny that’s the right fit for their specific needs. On occasion, however, we do encounter clients making discriminatory requests, which we are absolutely not willing to accommodate.
What are discriminatory requests?
- Requests for Nannies of a certain race or ethnic background (or Nannies who are not of a certain race or ethnic background)
- Requests related to the Nanny’s gender identity or sexual orientation.
- Requests for Nannies of a certain age group.
- Requests related to the Nanny’s size or body type.
- Requests related to the Nanny’s physical appearance.
What are you actually looking for in a Nanny?
Before specifying that you want “a Filipino Nanny” or that you don’t want “someone under the age of 25”, take a moment to reflect. What specific qualities do you value in a Nanny who is _____? Is the request you’re about to make based on a preconceived idea or stereotype about a specific group or demographic? What is it that you’re actually looking for, and how might you phrase it differently?
Below, we’ve listed some of the qualities that families desire in a Nanny. This language may be helpful for reframing your request, so that we can help you find a Nanny that’s the right fit.
- Language skills (For example: “We would like a Nanny who is fluent in _____” or “we prefer a Nanny who also speaks _____”.)
- Engaging and attentive
- Caring and nurturing
- Fun and enthusiastic
- Flexible and adaptable
- Punctual, good time management skills
- Housekeeping skills
- Meal preparation and cooking skills
- Positive discipline skills
We understand that, as parents, you only want what is best for your child(ren). Most of the time, there are no negative intentions behind the requests that are being made, however, they are often based on a preconceived notion or stereotype the client has in mind. Stereotypes (even seemingly “positive” stereotypes) can be harmful, as they result in people having implicit biases toward a specific group or demographic. These biases may then lead us to deny opportunities to those belonging (or not belonging) to that group. As an agency, we are not willing to deny highly qualified candidates the opportunity to apply for a position simply based on a family’s prejudice.
Although we do, unfortunately, encounter racial biases with some clients, we are not speaking exclusively about race and ethnicity. We also often receive requests based on ageism — for example, clients who don’t want a Nanny under the age of 25, or who don’t want someone over the age of 50. When we inquire as to why they would prefer someone older, more often than not, we learn that their real concern is that the Nanny will not be hardworking or that they will be on their phone all day. Conversely, some clients would prefer a younger Nanny, as they feel that someone older won’t have the stamina to keep up with their energetic children. In our experience, age does not determine whether someone is a good Nanny or not — work ethic, energy, and enthusiasm do. We’ve placed 19-year-old Nannies with families who have reported that they were the most hard-working, responsible employee they’ve ever hired. We’ve also placed Nannies in their 50’s who can carry twins up and down multiple flights of stairs all day, and who run marathons in their spare time. When it comes to being an exceptional child care provider, age is truly just a number!
We also sometimes have clients requesting a Nanny who is “thin” or “in good shape” (yes, this does happen). Quite often, what they are actually requesting is a Nanny who is active and energetic, and can keep up with their children. Unfortunately, as a society, we often equate size and body type with level of fitness. If you need a Nanny that has the stamina to keep up with your busy family, we will find you that Nanny! The Nanny’s physical appearance, however, will not be a deciding factor in our search.
Where can I learn more about being inclusive?
Here are some informative resources to check out:
7 Ways to Be More Inclusive in Your Everyday Life
Guide to Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace
Gender-Neutral Pronouns 101: Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know
Types of Discrimination
The Terrifying Power of Stereotypes – and How to Deal with Them
3 Reasons Positive Stereotypes aren’t that Positive
White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack