Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Research in Anthropology and Sociology

From "Reversed Quota" to "Invisible Quota" in the Recruitment of the Descendants of Immigrants for Public Service Jobs: A Comparative Analysis of the Local Implementation of "Diversity Politics" in Ponac (France) and in New East Amsterdam (the Netherlands)

Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Research in Anthropology and Sociology

From "Reversed Quota" to "Invisible Quota" in the Recruitment of the Descendants of Immigrants for Public Service Jobs: A Comparative Analysis of the Local Implementation of "Diversity Politics" in Ponac (France) and in New East Amsterdam (the Netherlands)

Article excerpt

Abstract

Through a qualitative comparison study of the hiring of the descendants of immigrants for public service jobs in France and in the Netherlands, this article highlights the selection mechanisms implemented by local human resources personnel in the local government in two small towns, one in the Netherlands and one in France2. We observed how the respective recruitment politics were designed to improve the visibility and presence of the descendants of migrants in local public services. Our results demonstrate that these two localities use very different methods to recruit the descendants of immigrants: French local authorities used "invisible quotas", and Dutch local authorities used "reversed quotas." They followed two different accounting systems, which in turn had diverse effects on the redefinition of the desired skillset.3

Keywords

Recruitment, quotas, diversity, comparison, local public authorities, discrimination

Introduction

Non-discrimination and the integration of national descendants of migrants4 into the labor market are two present themes that have been on the European political and social agenda in the early years of the 21st century. However, the issue of employability of people of diverse cultural origins have been only recently been addressed in the Netherlands and in France. Private companies and local authorities' prioritize the selection principle and human resources policies for diversity. These policies fall within an approach that addresses the recruitment of people of diverse cultural origins in connection with implementation of the legislation on non-discrimination based on origin, gender, age, etc. The legal context of employment discrimination is now very wide. It is in fact defined by the Labor Code, the Penal Code, and European directives. However, the research on diversity management in local public administrations that raises issues of equal opportunity, meritocracy, performance, and competence, is complex and socially sensitive, economically but also politically. Therefore, little or no analysis of the practices of diversity management within public administrations has been compared.

This paper seeks to understand the social logics underlying the work team compositions and services of local administrations. The goal is to have a comprehensive approach of the logics of recruitment from the "bottom-up" approach. So, how are locally applied national diversity policies? First, I assume that there is an accounting system for the policies of turning visible minorities, which reveals the complexity of the single quota mechanism. Indeed, it seems that human resources managers implement "invisible quotas" in the French context and "reversed quotas" in New East Amsterdam. On the other hand, I assume that the processes of selection and recruitment have strong implications in terms of "ethnicization"5 of skills.

This research underlines the historical, economical and social context of diversity policies in France and the Netherlands (part 1). Through two case studies, this paper shows the selection mechanisms implemented at local level by different managers. These are designed in order to improve the visibility and presence of national descendants of post-colonial migrants in local public authorities. I distinguish "invisible quotas" in Ponac and "reversed quotas" in New East Amsterdam (part 3). These accounting systems using affirmative action have an effect of skills' ethnicisation6 (Part 4).

Some methodological details

My approach involves the use of identifications of people of cultural origin and indirect nominations to address minorities. This article proposes to circumvent this highly sensitive obstacle by7 having recourse to a qualitative analysis of interpretive discourse of managers, recruited employees, and descendants of migrants who get a refusal to hire. Moreover, my qualitative choice is completed by a comparative approach. While research always tend to oppose France and the Netherlands through the simple distinction of universalism versus multiculturalism, I opted for a Franco-Dutch comparison since the two countries face a crisis of their integration models of visible minorities. …

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