Evaluation of the City of Geneva's diversity policy for the period 2016-2020

Evaluation of the City of Geneva's diversity policy for the period 2016-2020

The City of Geneva publishes the results of the evaluation of its diversity policy for the period 2016-2020.

Geneva is unlike any other of the cities which are member of the Intercultural Cities Network (ICC) and unique compared to many other cities around the world. A city of global importance, a transnational urban agglomeration, a regional capital and a medium-sized city at the same time, Geneva presents a fascinating combination of challenges and opportunities in terms of diversity and interculturality. If we take into account the particular demography of the city (60.8% - Swiss and 39.2% - foreigners) we can easily see the number of challenges that the municipal authorities have to face. This is why Geneva can serve as an example for other cities in the Intercultural Cities network.

In 2011, the ICC experts’ visit delivered a report describing the intercultural profile of the city of Geneva and defining, in conclusion, eight recommendations for the municipal authorities. The current assessment shows that these recommendations were taken into account.

The recently published assessment of the municipal diversity policy of the city of Geneva for the period 2016-2020 o offers a follow-up to a roadmap adopted in 2016 with a specific and non-stigmatising approach to diversity, based on the principle of social inclusion.

This self-assessment is an example of strong political commitment of the authorities of the city of Geneva, not only because it reports on what has been achieved and what still remains to be done, but also because it is accompanied by an explicit statement of the mayor of the city in 2019, Ms Sandrine Salerno, who emphasises on the policy’s main objective: "For the well-being of all its inhabitants; and to make Geneva a truly welcoming, accessible, non-discriminatory and responsible city. ».

The assessment of the roadmap 2016-2020 presents the main actions carried out in relation to the following 4 strategic axes:

1.         Welcoming residents

2.         Accessibility of public services

3.         The fight against discrimination in all its forms

4.         The implementation of a human resources policy that reflects the diversity of Geneva's population.

These axes are divided into eighteen objectives and target concrete results thanks to specific actions planned by the City of Geneva. Several actions have been developed and carried out, aiming at the achievement of five objectives related to social integration and the welcoming of residents, in particular:

-           Redesigning the welcome ceremony for new residents and candidates to naturalisation (more precisely : the participation of the University Hospitals of Geneva (HUG) and the Cantonal Employment Office (OCE) in the ceremony; implementation of the awareness project "Genève ta gueule"; creation of an inter-service and interdepartmental reception network to coordinate activities, exchange information and carry out a concerted reflection; the name of the event of the reception ceremony for candidates to naturalisation has been changed to "Welcome ceremony for newly naturalised citizens").

-           The development of a good knowledge of migration dynamics, specificities and needs according to the different audiences and the strengthening and systematisation of the reception of newly naturalised persons (concretely: the creation of an intermunicipal platform coordinated by the Office for the Integration of Foreigners; implementation of a coordinated reception system that allows for better information on municipal services).

The second axis concerns public services, more precisely, the accessibility to the municipal public services of the city of Geneva, and includes five objectives, four of which were achieved:

- The adaptation and translation into six languages of several communication media.

- Training of mediators for allophone groups.

- Implementation of a procedure for identifying groups with specific needs.

- Adoption of a municipal by-law to ensure the sustainability of the measures undertaken in terms of accessibility.

The actions that have helped to achieve these objectives are the following: Raising awareness of municipal services about the need for an accessible and intercultural language, as well as on the needs of the allophone groups; translation of 60 documents containing basic information about municipal services; setting up of a methodology that makes it possible interaction between the public services and the users with the view of finding a common approach to the mapping of needs and prioritising measures designed to promote equal opportunities; creation of an interdepartmental commission responsible for defining a universal accessibility policy.

The third axis is very important since it sets out six objectives concerning the fight against discrimination in all its forms. The assessment puts forward the achievement of all the objectives in this field, in particular :

- Raising awareness about non-discrimination among the population and strengthening and clarifying the involvement of the city of Geneva in the fight against racism. Concrete actions undertaken include: the production of more than 2,000 portraits within the " Genève ta gueule " project; the organisation of several exhibitions in 2015, 2016 and 2017; the organisation of the "Week against Racism", which contributes to public discourse against racial discrimination through information and awareness-raising tools by means of workshops, conferences, round tables, meetings, exhibitions, screenings, etc.

- Financial and logistical support for associations and other civil society entities carrying out activities to combat discrimination, and the organisation of one-off awareness-raising events in partnership with these associations or entities (each year, approximately 30 one-off grants, 10 other grants and various free of charge grants are awarded by the City).

- Hosting a study visit on interculturalism and intersectionality, organised in the framework of the Intercultural Cities Programme of the Council of Europe in order to continue strengthening the participation of the City of Geneva in this network with a view to exchanging good practices in the fight against discrimination and to promote at the European level the activities carried out by the City of Geneva in this area (in 2018, the seminar "Human rights at the local level: a European perspective" was held in Geneva in the framework of the Council of Europe's Intercultural Cities Programme): preventing discrimination through an intersectional perspective", bringing together representatives of member cities of the Intercultural Cities Programme and local associations).

- Raising public and private bodies’ awareness in order to overcome stereotypes in the labour market, in training, housing or in the public space, and the public, political and symbolic recognition of the contribution of migration to the social development in Geneva. These objectives were achieved through the organisation of a conference entitled "Stories and traces of discrimination: from seasonal workers to refugees (1931-2017)", and a one-month exhibition entitled "We, seasonal workers... Geneva 1931-2019" which combined history, memory and artistic approaches. Numerous events (conferences, film screenings, debates, exchanges of migration experiences) were organised on this occasion, in partnership with the civil society, and welcomed nearly 6,400 visitors.

The 4th axis is focused on the training of municipal and collaborative staff. The main objective is :

- The implementation of a human resources policy that reflects Geneva's diversity. The concrete actions that have enabled this objective to be achieved are linked to the implementation of three training courses and the creation of monitoring indicators: a workshop focused on the search for solutions, targeted staff members in contact with users; training for managers and line managers that address these issues within teams and in support of field situations; the training course "Migration, cultural diversity and public service", given at the end of 2019 and renewed in 2020. In addition, several departments are preparing tailor-made training courses; the development of monitoring indicators and their inclusion in the Social Report on Human Resources since the 2017 edition.

The assessment of the 2016-2020 roadmap presents the main actions carried out in relation to the axes and objectives set out at the beginning. In addition, this report shows that the actions linked to the implementation of the roadmap’s objectives have delivered results that were not among the goals initially pursued and which concern important areas such as integration, public services and equality in diverse societies, in particular :

-        Specific training for municipal police officers (including on issues related to the situation of Roma people).

-        Measures developed to play sports and make cultural services accessible to migrant persons, in particular in the field of asylum.

-        French courses in the parks.

-        Awareness about political rights for foreign nationals with voting rights at the communal level.

-        Local and community actions in the neighbourhoods (social barter, solidarity groups).

The self-assessment of the objectives and actions undertaken by the City of Geneva concludes that the deployment of the municipal diversity policy for the period 2016-2020 has helped to convey a strong political message that gives a positive image of diversity and that all residents, whatever their origin, religion, nationality or length of residence, are an integral part of Geneva. In the words of Ms. Salerno, "Today, as we take stock, we can be proud of the work that has already been accomplished. In five years, a lot has been achieved. Good projects have been developed in the fields of culture, sport, early childhood, social action, housing, security and human resources. Most of the objectives set out in the roadmap have been achieved, a strong diversity network has been set up and important reflections have been carried out. ». As for the prospects, the commitment is clear and encouraging: “... much remains to be done to give a positive image of diversity and to rid it of certain stereotypes that stick to it. In the years to come, therefore, the important work begun must be continued and efforts must be redoubled”.

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