French firms join forces to fight racism

Several large companies in France have pledged to hire more ethnic minority staff to combat rising discrimination against Arabs and Muslims.

Forty firms with operations in the country, including Airbus, IBM and Total, have signed a new ‘Charter of Diversity’.

France has the largest Muslim population of Western Europe, but it also has a huge problem with racial discrimination.

Employment agency Adia recently conducted a study answering adverts for senior salespeople and managers by sending out more than 1,800 fictitious CVs. About a third of white French men and a quarter of white French women received a positive response. But, when the applicants’ names were changed to Arab-sounding names, only 5% received a positive reply.

The study also revealed that in order to get a job interview or be admitted to a school, many Arabs have been known to change their names. For example, Mohammed becomes Michel or Farid becomes Francoise.

Frdric Girard, head of marketing and development at Adia, said the problem of discrimination in France was “enormous”, and only now being addressed. “We have progressed from a state of denial to the undeniable,” he said.

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