Netherlands: Supermarket Albert Heijn accused of racism in client profiles; incl. co comments

Author: Janene Pieters, NL Times, Published on: 15 January 2018

"Dutch supermarket chain Albert Heijn is facing criticism about client profiles that new employees have to learn. The profiles include a black woman with a child to represent clients who buy cheaper products, and a white man as a "Premium client". The Netherlands Institute for Human Rights and a number of anti-discrimination organizations call the profiles stigmatizing and stereotypical, NOS reports...According to the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights these profiles are not in violation of discrimination laws, but they are stigmatizing. "We are not in favor of linking characteristics to groups", Barbara Bos of the Institute said to NOS. "You stick a label to people and although this is not legally forbidden, the question is whether you should want this as a company."

Anti-discrimination organizations Radar Rotterdam, Art 1 Midden-Nederland and the discrimination hotline Amsterdam region MDRA also criticized the profiles to NOS. "It is ethic profiling. A large retail company also has a social responsibility, everyone has to think about how you represent something", MDRA director Lucienne Gena said. "It's not that complicated, it is stereotypical. You can not link poverty to a skin color."

...In a written reaction Albert Heijn stated that the customer profiles are intended to adapt the assortment in the stores to the type of customers that visit particular stores, the Volkskrant reports...The supermarket also removed the customer profiles following questions from the newspaper. "Apparently the image used creates an undesirable impression", a spokesperson said to the newspaper. "We will take a critical look at it and adjust the profiles." "

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Related companies: Ahold Delhaize Albert Heijn (part of Ahold Delhaize)