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FRANCE - Liaison Committee with Employment Intermediaries (CLAIE)

August 7th 2014

Description

Upon assessing the current state of antidiscrimination and equality action in France, it is clear that employment remains at the forefront. Indeed, employment discrimination remains prevalent in French society today. Of the 82 416 complaints filed with the Defender of Rights in 2012, 51.5 % of these were concerning discrimination on the job. In a recent opinion poll, 87% of French job seekers said that discrimination is commonplace while job hunting, with 81% stating that the current economic crisis will increase the risk of discrimination regarding employment access.

Given this information, the participation of employment actors in the fight against discrimination and the promotion of equality is particularly crucial. For this reason, the Defender of Rights has led the Liaison Committee with Employment Intermediaries (CLAIE), created in 2007 by the HALDE. The committee consists of the following employment intermediaries: Pôle Emploi, A competence Égale, CNML, CHEOPS, APEC, PRISME, and SYNTEC Conseil, chosen for their representativeness and legitimacy in the field. These actors, who play an important role in job recruitment as they act as an interface between job seekers and potential employers, confront challenges in their obligations to respect equal opportunity measures and legislation. Currently, employment intermediaries must face two major challenges;

  • Discriminatory requests coming from the part of employers
  • Employers seeking to diversify their workforce, but unable to explicitly target minority candidates

The committee aims to foster dialogue and exchange between employment intermediaries and the Defender of Rights, the objective being collaboration on tools aimed at promoting good practices as well as the establishment of preventative actions for those on the job market most vulnerable to discrimination.

The work of the committee has led to several advancements in the fight against discrimination during the recruitment process, most notably the Together for More Recruitment Equality commitment agreement, signed in October of 2013. The agreement requires that employment intermediaries put in place an active policy of equal opportunity and non-discriminatory practices. This commitment consists of the following components:

  • The implementation of non-discrimination and equality awareness campaigns and actions both within and outside of the organization
  • The refusal of all discriminatory requests and the application of equal treatment in recruiting procedures
  • Recruiting transparency and objectivity
  • Promotion of equal opportunity amongst candidates
  • Informing the Defender of Rights of all measures taken regarding the commitment and sharing examples of good practices in this domain
  • Communicating the organization’s commitment to all those involved in the recruitment process (recruiting agencies, employers)

Furthermore, the committee has led the Defender of Rights to elaborate a number of different tools aimed at guiding employment intermediaries in ensuring equal opportunity and eradicate discriminatory practices. Among these tools are

  • A newsletter focused on equal opportunity in the work place and during the recruiting process
  • The Framework for Action (Cadre pour agir et rendre compte -CARC) an auditing tool allowing to evaluate the practices of employ intermediaries
  • A question and answer internet platform dealing with employment access for the handicapped
  • Pamphlets on different aspects concerning employment discrimination (e.g. pregnancy and maternity)
  • The publication of jurisdictional decisions as well as decisions made by the Defender of Rights in the domain of employment discrimination

In addition to the commitment agreement and tools developed, the committee highlighted the need to examine risks of discrimination through the use of new technologies in recruitment procedures. During the pre-selection phase of recruitment, the use of the internet (social networks, search engines) and of software allowing for elaborate search criteria has greatly increased over the past few years. This technology runs the risk of facilitating discriminatory selections by using key words related to age, gender or ethnic origins. Discriminatory risks are also inherent on professional networks, as these profiles show the photo, age, and conjugal status of interested parties. In order to better understand these possible risks, the committee decided it to launch a study, consulting software publishers on the selection criteria requested by clients as well as their own knowledge of equal opportunity and antidiscrimination legislation. This study will allow for a better understanding of the techniques developed in this domain and help prevent discriminatory practices when using new technologies in the recruiting process.

Finally, the work of the committee has led to the implementation of a working group on “paradoxical injunctions”, that it is to say public policy initiatives inciting employers to diversify their work force but which restrict them from implementing quotas in the work place. The work group aimed at bringing to light the specific challenges that employment intermediaries face in this domain, namely their uncertainty as to what constitutes discriminatory practices when it comes to recruiting employees belonging to minority groups. The group decided to consult with those concerned by these problems (experts, employer representatives, actors in the field) in order to make an assessment of the difficulties in this domain and identify good practices likely to ensure the recruiting process from discriminatory practices.