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Macron shuns another ‘new’ plan, wants more jobs to tackle deprived suburbs

Ludovic Marin/ Pool/ AFP | French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech on his government's battle plan for deprived areas, on May 22, 2018.
3 min

French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday said he would not announce a new plan to fix the country's poor suburbs but rather called on France’s biggest companies to do their part to combat discrimination and poverty.


Macron noted that the first plan to fight poverty in France's deprived suburbs was launched 40 years ago -- the year of his birth -- with poor results, he said in a Twitter post.

It would "make no sense" to pursue the same strategy, he said Tuesday.

Instead, the French president said the country’s top corporations and vast state sector would be scrutinised for their employment and diversity hiring in the next three years.

Macron began his address Tuesday at the Elysée presidential palace by declaring that he refused to speak of a “Marshall Plan for the suburbs,” a commonly used phrase for a suburban development strategy initiated by former President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2008. He also spoke of fighting “house sentencing” that traps residents of disadvantaged neighbourhoods.

‘Anonymous testing’

The French president instead called on the country’s top 120 companies, asking them to “do their part” in the fight against discrimination, which affects French people of African and Arab origins and Muslims in particular.

Noting that the top 120 French companies will be tested in the next three years to ensure they do not discriminate when hiring, Macron announced a new “anonymous testing” measure to detect cases of discrimination in employment.

"We are going to expand testing to check behaviours and make sure that there is no discrimination in hiring practices," Macron told a group of business people, local lawmakers and associations.

France has already tried random testing, which usually involves sending out identical CVs for job vacancies with different names to compare the response rate.

A study in 2015 by a French academic on behalf of the Montaigne Institute, a thinktank, found that a Muslim man was four times less likely to be called for a job interview than a Catholic counterpart.

Macron also promised 30,000 internships in private companies and state agencies for high school students reserved for teenagers from disadvantaged neighbourhoods.

He will also unveil plans to fight drug trafficking in July.

(FRANCE 24 with AP and AFP)

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