Page last updated at 00:18 GMT, Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Agencies 'happy to discriminate'

Tariq Modood
Professor Tariq Modood said he was surprised by the level of discrimination

Letting agents and employment agencies in the west of England are willing to discriminate against ethnic minority groups, a BBC investigation has found.

Of 30 temping agencies contacted by an Inside Out West researcher, 25 agreed to a request for a receptionist job to be offered only to white workers.

Seventeen out of 30 letting agencies also agreed to discriminate.

Industry representatives said the findings were "unacceptable" and they would take action.

Professor Tariq Modood, of the Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship, said: "I'm surprised how many people were willing to go along with a very blatant suggestion of discrimination.

"Past surveys have tended to suggest maybe a third of people will discriminate and you have found that it is greater than that."

'Racial motivations'

Posing as a landlord with a two-bedroom house to rent out, the researcher told the letting agents not to show it to anyone from an ethnic minority background.

A spokeswoman for the Association of Residential Letting Agents, the regulatory body for the industry, said: "A lettings agent simply cannot assist a landlord with refusing a tenant due to racial motivations.


We would expect agencies to challenge that kind of discriminatory instruction and to walk away from the business if they had to
Tom Hadley - Recruitment and Employment Confederation

"Our code of conduct makes it very clear that any form of discrimination is unacceptable and will not be tolerated."

The researcher also posed as an employer who wanted a temporary receptionist, but insisted the person had to be white.

Among those who agreed to the request was one agency worker who said: "That's fine. You are not allowed to say it but, no, we certainly hear what you say. That's not a problem."

Tom Hadley, of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), said: "We would expect agencies within the REC membership to challenge that kind of discriminatory instruction and to walk away from the business if they had to - because that is how seriously we take this particular issue.

"It shows there's still a lot of work we need to do. We will not tolerate this kind of discriminatory behaviour."

The full story features on Inside Out West on BBC One in the West region at 1930 GMT on Wednesday.

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