Between April and July last year, a consulting firm commissioned by the labour ministry surveyed 40 businesses in six cities with more than a thousand employees, AFP reported.
The firm sent out 3 000 applications for 1 500 jobs on behalf of the 40 companies, and in each case, the employer received two applications for the same job describing people with similar backgrounds, experience and qualifications.
The only significant — but sometimes decisive — difference was in the applicants’ names. French names are the only avenue left for employers to make a racial distinction, as overt racial categories are prohibited by law in France and carry heavy penalties.
The survey found that at least 12 of the 40 companies discriminated against candidates with north African sounding names.
When it came to interviews, for example, 47 percent of candidates with traditional French names got interviews, but only 36 percent of those with North African names received invitations for interviews.
The government hastily cautioned that the sample was “too small to generalise” for all French companies, but Labour Minister Myriam El Khomri said the attitudes reconfirmed the existing equality.
“These tests, of an unprecedented scale, clearly show a striking inequality of treatment in hiring,” she said.