Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Where are the numbers?

The wise Emil Cioran wrote in one of his aphorisms in De l’inconvénient d’être né (1973) that "Plus on a souffert, moins on revendique. Protester est signe qu’on n’a traversé aucun enfer."

In a world where the word activist, like so many others, has become little else than a void concept, few sciences are more abused than statistics.

Any lobby, think thank, activist group, political party uses numbers to try giving an air of objectivity to their demands or grievances.
Examples abound, but Baron von Trotta has noticed an increase in recent years of studies proving with numbers precisely what their financial sponsors wanted to.

The complex world of discrimination offers many examples of the abuse of statistics by all kinds of organizations, when using them to analyze societal trends, interpreting its results, or communicating the results of the study to the wider public.

This constant drowning by numbers seems surprisingly to have missed certain questions.

In multinational corporations and across the EU, what percentage of top managers comes from the country where the corporation is based? What percentage of the latter gets top jobs in international operations? Which nationalities are more likely to be promoted? And which ones get fired more frequently? What is the share of nationality per job category and seniority? Which companies offer certain benefits only in certain countries?

This list could be much longer. There are multiple bodies trying to prove discrimination by gender or age, and we are daily flooded with data about such cases.

But what about discrimination by nationality? Is it maybe, like discrimination by class, that the subject is best avoided for fear of what it might reveal...? Is this matter not worthy of the attention of EU's anti-discrimination authorities?

Or,  like in Cioran's quote, it is so widespread and accepted nobody really bothers to protest?

Yes, what are those numbers?

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