One in Five Employees in Britain Still Affected by Discrimination

Image courtesy of http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/
Image courtesy of http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

Workplace discrimination is still worryingly prevalent, according to new research carried out by Essex and London law firm Fisher Jones Greenwood.

In a survey of 1,600 people, almost 20% say they have experienced discrimination of some type during their career, whether it be a one off occurrence or an ongoing issue. Despite the development of a workplace culture which enables employees to identify and report incidents where they feel they have been discriminated against, 44% of the people surveyed who said they had felt discriminated against did not take any action regarding the incident(s).

Surprisingly, the survey found that the Public Sector is the working environment in which most discrimination has occurred, with 16% reporting some form of discrimination, whereas Banking & Finance reported only 8%, much lower than might be expected. Other industries where discrimination is most prevalent are:

Teaching & Education (12%)

Retail & Sales (11%)

Health & Social Care (10%)

Hospitality & Travel (9%)

In terms of discrimination type, the survey found that age and gender were the most prevalent types of discrimination at 27% and 23% respectively, with women experiencing the greater percentage of gender discrimination at 37% as opposed to 12% for men.

Race/nationality and physical appearance (15% each) were the second most prevalent types of discrimination, followed by social class (12%) and disability/illness (11%). Least prevalent was sexual orientation at 6%.

Senior Partner at Fisher Jones Greenwood, Tony Fisher said: “This research clearly shows that there are many people who feel disgruntled because of some type of discrimination, although only 11% of those people sought legal advice. Whilst reporting incidents to senior management or seeking advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau is encouraged, and often the best way to solve an issue, it is also easy for complaints to be undervalued or unsatisfactorily resolved.”

A closer look at age discrimination data reveals interesting findings: 37% of people aged 65+ claim to have experienced age-related discrimination but 50% of young people aged 18-24 also claim to have experienced age-related discrimination.

Head of Employment, Beth Baird, says: “We’ve seen a trend that younger people are now experiencing a great deal of discrimination, however, it often remains buried. We believe that it could be linked to the current state of the employment market; with competition for jobs at an all time high, it can be difficult for those with less life and workplace experience to find employment. Equally, those who are perceived by employers to be at or near the end of their working lives often struggle to find alternative jobs after being made redundant. In both instances employee’s skills and potential are going to waste.”

Fisher Jones Greenwood recommends that in all industries, employees should make sure that they know what their employer’s policies are when it comes to raising concerns and complaints, and how they should be dealt with through to resolution. Procedures should be laid out clearly in an employee handbook, with a section on dispute resolution. Employees should ensure that they familiarise themselves with this and make sure they know the correct process, should a complaint need to be made at any point.

For more survey results, please see http://www.fjg.co.uk/site/blog/employment_blog/survey

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