Power Comes To The French Slums

Though he's due at the Elysée Palace for a meeting with Jacques Chirac, corporate titan Claude Bébéar takes the time to meet with two new employees at AXA, his global insurance firm. Sabrina Agalia, 27, and Claudio Diavala, 26, are recruits from Bébéar's program to open élite French businesses to people from the banlieues — the blighted housing projects ringing most French cities, where high unemployment and growing lawlessness have produced an environment that French society fears and disdains. Exchanging nervous pleasantries, Bébéar and his recruits are obviously aware of the social and professional gulf that separates them. But in a...

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