France launches poster campaign against workplace racism
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The French government has launched a campaign to denounce the chronic racial discrimination in the French workplace. Massive billboard posters featuring split pictures showing white and non-white faces have been plastered around the country.
The government campaign, titled “Les compétences d’abord” (skills first), was launched in mid-April and will last for two weeks. Some 2,000 of the images are on show in city centres and train and metro stations across the country.
Each poster shows on one side the face of a white candidate, with superimposed captions including “welcome to the team” and “you can start on Monday”, and on the other a non-white face with the words “we’ll get back to you”, “sorry we are not recruiting” and “you don’t have the right profile for the job”.
“This kind of discrimination is not the result of overtly racist or sexist recruitment policies,” said Labour Minister Myriam El Khomri as she launched the campaign on April 18. “But it is the result of a succession of small decisions, prejudices and even laziness.”
El Khomri added that there was “twice the amount of unemployment among young people in working class neighbourhoods” where there are typically a higher number of people of immigrant descent.
“It creates a terrible sense of humiliation,” she said. “It clearly demonstrates the barriers that exist in our society.”
According to a study by French thinktank the Institut Montaigne, men perceived as practising Muslims are four times less likely to get a job interview than those seen as practising Catholics.
The government has also launched a study, by thinktank France Stratégie, to calculate the precise cost of discrimination to the French economy. The results are expected to be published in June 2016.
“We need to destroy all existing barriers that prevent people getting jobs,” Prime Minister Manuel Valls said in a statement on the Labour Ministry’s “Compétences d’abord” website. “This means fighting, with all our strength, discrimination to which our society has turned a blind eye for far too long.”
“We must free ourselves of this collective hypocrisy, we must respect the law, and we must ensure that our country’s elite, in both the private and public sector, is a true reflection of who we are as a society,” he added.
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