Australian firm seeks 'Anglo Saxon' job applicants

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Sydney - One of Australia's largest telecommunication providers Optus apologised Friday after posting a job advertisement seeking candidates who were preferably "Anglo Saxon".

The ad, posted on a job classifieds website, was for a store in the affluent Sydney suburb of Neutral Bay and was listed on Thursday afternoon according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

The ad stated a preference for: "Candidates who are Anglo Saxon and live near to Neutral Bay." The Herald said the ad was removed after the newspaper contacted the firm, which is owned by Singapore Telecom, on Friday.

Optus' human resources vice president Vaughan Paul said the "error is completely unacceptable", adding that it was "a clear breach of our advertising standards and commitment to equal opportunity employment".

"Optus proudly supports diversity and employs staff representing more than 70 nationalities," he said in a statement.

"This incident is unacceptable and does not reflect Optus' values of diversity and inclusion." Paul said Optus had launched an investigation "with a view to taking disciplinary action against those involved, and offer an unreserved apology".

"Under the Racial Discrimination Act, it is unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of race in employment," Australia's race discrimination commissioner Tim Soutphommasane tweeted Friday.

The company was also slammed on social media.

"Optus am disappointed!! That advert seeking Anglo Saxon makes no sense in this year, day, country etc," one Twitter user wrote.

But others defended Optus, saying such discriminatory hiring was not uncommon.

Australia was inhabited by indigenous peoples until the arrival of European settlers in more than two centuries ago.

The country has since seen had an influx of migrants from across the world, with nearly half of Australians either born overseas or having one or both parents born abroad.