Candidates of North African origin are less likely to be contacted by recruiters, study finds

It is a study confirming the discrimination that French people of North African origin may suffer in their job search. Led by ISM Corum (Inter service migrants – Observation and research center on the urban and its mutations) and the Institute of Public Policies (IPP), under the aegis of Dares, it shows that the candidates whose identity suggests a North African origin have a 31.5% less chance of being contacted by recruiters. However, discrimination “is weaker, without fading, among the most qualified employees”, notes the Directorate for the Animation of Research, Studies and Statistics, attached to the Ministry of Labor.

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To achieve this result, the researchers tested 2,400 job offers, each sending no less than four applications, one female and one male for each supposed origin, French and North African. These fictitious applications are distinguished mainly by the first and last names which suggest a gender and an ethnic origin. The study, conducted between December 2019 and April 2021, is intended to be representative, in terms of trades and sector, and covers the entire metropolitan territory. No less than 11 trades were tested in this way.

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As a result, applications with a North African-sounding identity are 31.5% less often called back than identical French-sounding applications. The latter obtain a recall rate of 33.3%, against 22.8% for people believed to be North African. “Discrimination in hiring according to the supposed origin remains high and a major element of the labor market in France”, estimates the Dares. This difference according to origin does not change significantly whether the applications are male or female.

Less discrimination in more skilled trades

On the other hand, the intensity of discrimination is higher for certain occupations, such as commercial employees, kitchen clerks and administrative employees. Conversely, applicants of supposed North African origin experience less discrimination within skilled trades, particularly executives, compared to low-skilled occupations.

In addition, discrimination tends to be reduced in occupations which encounter recruitment difficulties. The difference in the recall rate between North African-sounding and French-sounding applications amounts to 26% in these so-called “high-tension” professions, against a gap of 34% in other professions.

In general, when recruiters show an interest in three of the four CVs sent, it is most often a candidate whose first name and last name are North African-sounding who is rejected – in 6% of cases, against 3% job offers that set aside a candidate of supposed French origin.

1.5 times more CVs to send to get a positive response

When only one candidate is contacted – which happened in 15% of cases – it is most often an application suggesting a French identity that is retained by the recruiter: in 11% of the tests carried out, while only 4% of companies contacted a single candidate who was of supposed North African origin.

In the end, a person whose name is North African-sounding must send 1.5 times more applications to obtain the same number of positive responses as a person with an almost identical profile with a French-sounding name. This recall rate “is comparable to the results obtained using the same method by previous studies on more specific segments of the labor market”, while appearing “at the bottom of the range usually observed”, specifies the Dares.

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The “Equality and Citizenship” law of January 2017 obliges companies with more than 300 employees to train for recruitment without discriminating. But it still seems quite insufficient. Employers 20.5% more often refuse applications of supposed North African origin and ignore them, providing no response, 14.1% more frequently, according to the study published by Dares. A gap likely to foster anger and frustration among workers of North African origin.

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