Belgium: Anonymous job applications

The following is a general translation:

According to Naima Charkaoui, coordinator for Minority Forum, the umbrella organization for minorities in Flanders, there is very high racism in Belgium. Employers going to the Flemish employment service site are five times less likely to click on "minority" names than to click on "native" Belgian names. By pushing for anonymous job applications the forum is hoping to give immigrants a fair chance at getting the job.

Charkaoui admits that many minorities have other problems, such as insufficient knowledge of the language or lack of education, but says that the government should be more helpful and pro-active. She says companies should follow up on the percentage of 'minorities' within their workforce in order to show whether there is organized discrimination.

The government is a reflection of society, she says, and as such should be first in line for changing the attitude towards foreigners. Native Belgian are not required to learn the language, but immigrants are - regardless of whether they need it for their job or not. It can come to a point where parents don't send their kids to school as they need to learn the language first.

There is no real problem with the suggestion of anonymous applications, per se. An applicant should be judged based on his credentials and not on race or creed, just as all employees should be given the same rights, regardless of race or creed.

However, it seems as though Charkaoui is concerned with more than racism. She wants the Flemish government to take a pro-active approach. She's not only concerned with the situation of 2nd or 3rd generation immigrants, who came at Belgium's invitation. She's also concerned with newcomers who just got off the boat. At a time when the government is demanding more from immigrants, she wants to cut down on requirements.

The big question is: Why?

It is no secret that Belgium, and Europe, have a high rate of unemployment. Many citizens do not have a job. Should the Flemish government really be concerned with enabling foreigners to work in Belgium? Its first and foremost concern should be the Flemish citizens who were born in the country.

This is not racism - this is the responsibility of the government. The government should only be responsible for immigrants which it brings in of its own initiative.

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