Netherlands: 77% of employment agencies prepared to practice discrimination when requested

According to a study carried out two sociologists, Evelien LOETERS and Anne BACKER of the VU University of Amsterdam, almost 77% of employment agencies are prepared to practice discrimination if requested by clients who are employers.

This is the most important study on discrimination in the employment agency field since 1991 when another sociologist, Jose MELOEN, contacted 134 firms providing this service and found that 94% were willing to discriminate when requested.

The optimist would consider the latest results as an improvement. This is not the view of Iris ANDRIESSEN of the Netherlands Institute for Social Research who noticed that in the latest study 13 of the 187 employment agencies contacted did not, themselves, practice discrimination, at least not directly.

When asked to discriminate, they merely offered a list of names of interested candidates, leaving it to the two sociologists, who pretended to represent a call-centre looking for staff, to strike out those with foreign-sounding names.

The two sociologists did not include these 13 firms among those willing to practice discrimination, but Ms ANDRIESSEN considers that they have indirectly done so.

Including them in the category of those practicing discrimination would lead to the same results obtained by Mr MELOEN.

In contacting employment agencies, the two sociologists always said: “I think it’s a bit tedious, but I prefer not to have Moroccans/Turks/Surinamese, and even if they speak excellent Dutch I do not want them”.

76.8% of the employment agencies complied with this request even though they were, by doing so, in violation of the law.

14% of these firms even when so far as to acknowledge that they aware that what was being asked of them was unlawful but that they would still comply with the request.

It was noted that the smaller the firm, the more likely it was that they would comply with the unlawful request. Those with 14 or more branches in the country were less willing to discriminate.