Discrimination is a major issue facing the international community in the Netherlands, with two thirds of respondents to a new survey saying they had been targeted at least once.
Only one third of the 3,800 people taking part in the research by the International Community Advisory Panel said they had not experienced any discrimination during their time in the Netherlands and 18% said they often experienced it. Almost one half (48%) occasionally did so.
‘When we looked at people’s direct experiences, we found that many related specifically to people’s origins, with many reporting they had been told to ‘go back to your own country’ or had to deal with racist comments and stereotypes,’ said ICAP board member Deborah Valentine.
Many people also felt they had not been given a job or were passed over for promotion because they were not Dutch or did not speak Dutch, even though English was the language of their company.
‘There is a stereotypical assumption that because I am Polish I must be uneducated and do a low quality job,’ one respondent said.
‘I have been asked if my husband rescued me from the jungle. I have been asked if I am the nanny of my own children, just because they have blond hair,’ said another.
Many respondents also reported being treated differently and charged higher prices by service providers because they were foreign. ‘The ‘only Dutch’ housing adverts are a problem and rent prices are generally higher for expats,’ one Amsterdam resident commented.
Nevertheless, the survey responses also show that international workers are keen to get to know their new country. Over four in five have had a weekend away somewhere else in the Netherlands, 72% have taken Dutch lessons and 53% have a Museumkaart.
Respondents were asked what they considered to be important in feeling at home, and 70% said friendly neighbours were key. Knowing where to go for help with problems was cited by 67% while 61% said speaking Dutch and 60% said having Dutch friends.
Although just over a quarter of respondents said they did not feel at home in the Netherlands, some 44% felt fairly or very settled, and 60% said they have no plans to leave.
‘Newspaper headlines often suggest that the expat is rich, sends their children to international schools and leave after a few years, but our research has shown consistently that this is not the case,’ Valentine said.
‘There are a lot of misconceptions about the international community and the idea that all foreign workers benefit from big tax breaks and will leave after a couple of years is completely outdated.’
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