Thursday, June 16, 2011

Adecco Brussels' apartheid policy

The hottest document in Belgium right now (aside from the prime minister's latest Twitter accident) is a list which a Brussels branch of the Adecco employment agency used as a guide for screening candidates.

The story is elegantly summed up on the website of the left-wing PVDA party, who leaked the controversial list two days ago:

(Translated by me - original here)
Following a complaint to the Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism, the Public Prosecutor in Brussels opened an investigation of Adecco in 2001. The company was said to discriminate in the recruitment of temporary employees. Eight years later, the company was let off the hook due to the fact that there never was any serious investigation. But the General Federation of Belgian Labour and SOS Racism got involved, and on May 31 of this year, Adecco was convicted. But the names of the companies that did not want to employ temporary workers of foreign origin were never made public. Solidarity (the newspaper of the PVDA) now makes up for this 'oversight'.
According to the PVDA, the list comes from the case file from the official investigation.

In the list you can see the abbreviation BBB, which stands for Blanc Bleu Belge ("white, blue, Belgian"). This is a reference to the Belgian Blue cattle breed, which is also known as Belgian Blue-White. According to flandersnews.be:
The code was used to indicate that the firm did not want Adecco to recruit any members of the ethnic minorities for it. (...) Extra information is listed against the name of some companies like "often works with the police", "no scum" or "BBB or other nationality but no Arabs".
Companies mentioned in the list include:
  • Benetton Retail Belgium, part of the global luxury fashion brand Benetton Group.
  • C&A, a Belgian-based chain of fashion retail clothing stores with 34,000 employees worldwide.
  • Delhaize, one of Europe's biggest supermarket operators.
  • Electrabel, the largest producer of electricity in the Netherlands and Belgium.
  • Press Shop, Belgium's only specialized press retailer.
  • Interbrew, now part of the largest brewing company in the world, Anheuser-Busch InBev.
Only one Adecco branch in Brussels was sentenced for this practice, as the court found no reason to hold the entire company responsible. However, it's natural to wonder whether this has been a general policy throughout the company.

Several of the companies mentioned on Adecco's racist list have expressed confusion and surprise at the publication of the list, stating that their policies support diversity and tolerance. But then how on Earth did they end up on Adecco's list of companies who only wanted white Belgians?

1 comment:

  1. Shame on you, Adecco. But they're probably not alone...

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