'We'll call you': France tackles racial discrimination in jobs

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'We'll call you': France tackles racial discrimination in jobs

France's labour ministry launched a campaign to tackle the longstanding issue of racial discrimination in the recruitment process. But it's sparked controversy across the country.


Over 2000 provocative posters have been plastered in train stations and shops across the country, in this enormous, not to mention costly, campaign to challenge employers and recruiters to think about racial discrimination.

The posters seek to expose the issue with a very visual comparison. They show a face made up of two different halves. In each case, one side is half of the face of a white person, with positive response captioned, alongside the face of someone with a different colour skin, with a negative caption, highlighting the racial discrimination that takes place.

(Photo: Labour Ministry)

"See you tomorrow" in this case accompanies the photo of the white woman's face, while the caption alongside the face of the black woman reads "Sorry, we aren't looking for anybody". 

(Photo: Labour Ministry)

In this poster "Welcome to the team" is the message received by a white male, whereas the man on the right is told "We will call you back". 

And this poster includes the comment "You start on Monday", with the white man's face, where as for the black candidate the message was "You don't have the right profile".

The campaign's message is being further reinforced on social media sites Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin through a series of videos, highlighting some of the justifications employers have given for not employing someone. “He has too much of an accent”, “She is of African origin, isn’t she?” or “That won’t go down well with our clients” are some of them.

The slogan of the campaign #LesCompetencesDabord (Skills, first and foremost), accompanies all posters and posts, reminding employers of what the sole basis for their decisions should be.

The campaign has however come under fire for being too specific and excluding other social groups who are also suffer discrimination at the recruitment phase.

It is not only those from different countries or practicing different cultures who suffer discrimination from employers. *

In the most recent survey taken by France's rights watchdog ‘Defenseur des droits’, some 88 percent of the people questioned quoted age (older than 55), as being the most inhibiting factor in securing a job.

Being pregnant was recognised as a factor by 85 percent of respondents, then other factors hindering recruitment were being disabled (77 percent) and obesity (75 percent) All of these issues were overlooked in El Khomri's campaign.

Even though the issue of racial discrimination in the recruitment process is recognized as a longstanding issue in France, some took to social media to criticize the campaign for overlooking other factors.


One twitter user poses the question "Why does the #CompetenceFirst campaign only target racial discrimination and not gender, age or even beauty?

Further arguments are that the campaign may indeed have the exact adverse effect and rather encourage employers to falsely hire people, in order to meet a quota, which could be  equally demeaning for the person involved.

One of many parodies to have been circulated in the past few days.

More people took the opportunity to remind the Government of the current unemployment rate being at an all time high, suggesting that with the current rate of unemployment among young people - no matter what the colour - is at 26%,  there was a larger issue to be tackled here. 


by Hattie Ditton


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