MINELRES: Publication: European Roma Rights Centre Report: Exclusion of Roma from Employment

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Mon Mar 5 18:32:47 2007

Original sender: European Roma Rights Centre <errc@errc.org>

The Glass Box: Exclusion of Roma from Employment  

Savelina Danova-Roussinova, ERRC Research and Policy Co-ordinator:
savelina.danova@errc.org, (36 1) 41 32 215
Ann Hyde, Labour Market and Social Inclusion Specialist,

Budapest, March 2, 2007:  The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC)
announces the publication of the report "The Glass Box: Exclusion of
Roma from Employment". The report examines the findings and implications
of research on employment discrimination against Roma carried out in
Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia; identifies best
practice measures replicable elsewhere; and elaborates a set of
recommendations for future actions. A glass box excludes Roma from
gainful employment, denies Roma access to major segments of the labour
market, blocks Roma from having access to well-remunerated work,
isolates Roma at the workplace, and secludes Roma into segregated work
arrangements dealing solely with Roma issues.

Employment discrimination against Roma is most prevalent at the job
search stage and in the recruitment practices companies apply. Many
companies have a total exclusion policy regarding the employment of Roma
and practise across-the-board unmitigated discrimination against Romani
applicants. ERRC research, based on structured narrative interviews with
402 working-age Romani individuals in 2005 and 2006, revealed that 64%
of working-age Roma have experienced discrimination in employment. When
asked "How do you know it was because you are Romani?",  49% said they
had been openly told by the employer or someone in the company, and an
additional 5% were told by the labour office.  

Sophisticated forms of invisible and indirect discrimination are denying
educated Roma the opportunity of labour market choice and many find that
they are excluded from mainstream employment and limited to work that is
in some way related to their Roma ethnicity. For example, a
university-educated Roma can be a social worker for Romani families; a
teacher for Romani children; or a Roma advisor in a government office,
but they are almost never simply a social worker, a teacher or a public
servant working in mainstream functions that provide services for the
majority population.

There is strong evidence of institutional racism in the labour office
structures in Central and South-Eastern Europe. The entrenched negative
stereotypical views of those working in public institutions, at the
front-line of dealing with Romani unemployment, call into question their
capacity to deliver an unbiased and professional service not distorted
by prejudiced views. In many instances, labour office officials have
reportedly condoned discrimination against Roma, respecting employers'
request not to offer positions to Romani job seekers.

Despite existing anti-discrimination legislation that prohibits
discrimination on the grounds of ethnicity, many companies appear
unconcerned to take adequate measures to ensure that they comply with
the legislation. Enterprises, no matter whether they are in the private
or public sector, are making very little effort to actively apply an
equal opportunity or diversity policy. Even multi-national companies
from Western Europe and the USA with branch offices in Central and
Southeastern Europe, where the law will have required them to observe
and monitor employment equality policies, seem content to hide behind
national claims in Central and Southeastern Europe that it is illegal to
monitor the ethnic diversity of their workforce. Some 70% of the
employers interviewed during the research claim that they have an equal
opportunities/diversity policy in place but none could provide a
detailed explanation of how the procedures operate. 

The public sector is one of the largest employers in each country,
especially government ministries, but even in the public institutions
there is no evidence of a proactive approach to guarantee equality of
opportunity in employment.

Governments have not introduced adequate measures to encourage public
and private employers to implement equal opportunity policies. Where
existing at all, equality policies in the five countries are currently
focused on the individual enforcement of anti-discrimination norms. This
approach has severe limitations because it is dependent on individual
challenging of illegal discrimination, it does not address broader
causes for inequality, and it cannot remedy the situation of larger
groups of people in disadvantaged position. A pro-active approach
involving a positive duty on public and private bodies to identify and
address inequalities is non-existent.

Active labour market policies and measures are not designed on the basis
that the unemployed individuals of today - including Roma - will become
part of the workforce of tomorrow. Public work programmes are the most
used and least effective programmes for reintegration in the labour
market. There is only a very tenuous link between work in the programmes
and employment in the functioning labour market. 

"The Glass Box" report  includes detailed recommendations to policy- and
lawmakers aimed at bringing about fundamental change in these areas.
Research toward -- and publication of -- "The Glass Box: Exclusion of
Roma from Employment" has been supported by the European Commission and
the Open Society Institute. The full text of "The Glass Box: Exclusion
of Roma from Employment" is available in English at:
http://www.errc.org/db/02/14/m00000214.pdf .

Hard copies of "The Glass Box: Exclusion of Roma from Employment" are
available by contacting the offices of the European Roma Rights Centre. 


The European Roma Rights Centre is an international public interest law
organisation which monitors the rights of Roma and provides legal
defence in cases of human rights abuse. For more information about the
European Roma Rights Centre, visit the ERRC on the web at

European Roma Rights Centre
1386 Budapest 62
P.O. Box 906/93
Tel: +36.1.413.2200

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