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Trade Union News from Finland

Labour market's ethnic discrimination most prevalent during recruitment stage

Helsinki (09.05.2012 - Juhani Artto) In the Finnish labour market ethnic minorities face discrimination at the recruitment stage in particular. At work places and in termination situations ethnic discrimination is not as common as at the recruitment stage. These are some of the major findings in a new study* on discrimination in the labour market.

The study covers all labour-related categories and all grounds prohibited under the Finnish Non-Discrimination Act. According to the study, other grounds, such as age, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion and opinion, do not lead to labour discrimination as frequently as ethnicity (and nationality and language, which are closely related to ethnicity). The frequency of ethnic discrimination is over three times higher than gender discrimination, the researchers conclude.

Earlier studies indicate that Somalis/Sub-Saharan Africans and Arabs have been the groups who have perceived most discrimination both in recruitment and at the work place, while Estonians and Ingrian Finns have reported only slight discrimination in all categories.

The report includes data from field studies carried out by the project's researchers. It appears that "an applicant with a Russian name needs to send twice the number of applications in order to get invited to an interview in comparison to an equally qualified applicant with a Finnish name."

These kind of findings reflect the existence of backward attitudes in working life, says Lauri Ihalainen, the Minister of Labour and former President of SAK. Labour market organizations should intensify their cooperation in efforts to tackle these unsustainable attitudes, he proposes.

Research into labour discrimination in Finland has been rather fragmented and has rarely provided directly comparable data. The new report improves significantly the level and coverage of information on labour discrimination. It also provides proposals on how to develop the national discrimination monitoring system.

The study was commissioned by the Ministry of Employment and the Economy. In the steering group of the project, SAK's lawyer Anu-Tuija Lehto represented the entire trade union movement.

*Discrimination in the Finnish labor market. An overview and a field
experiment on recruitment
, MEE May 2012 (a 212-page pdf-file)