Research perspectives

Workplace discrimination a  ‘pervasive problem’ report finds

A report by The Young Foundation has revealed that almost three quarters (72 per cent) of professionals with two or more marginalised characteristics have experienced ‘discriminatory or exclusionary’ behaviour in the workplace since the start of 2019.

This figure jumped to 86 per cent among professionals who have three or more marginalised characteristics, defined by their gender identity, ethnicity, sexual orientation, a disability or neurodivergence, or having a lower-socioeconomic background. 

Such discrimination “not only harms individuals but also stifles diversity of thought, and hinders organisational performance”, and can make workers “doubt their belonging” the report warns.

The most common discriminatory behaviour included feeling undervalued in comparison to colleagues of equal competence (46 per cent); being unfairly spoken over or not listened to in meetings (43 per cent); colleagues taking sole credit for shared efforts (35 per cent); and slights, snubs or other microaggressions (34 per cent). 

As a result of workplace discrimination and exclusion, respondents reported changing jobs (44 per cent); facing mental health conditions (33 per cent); not pursuing opportunities such as promotions or training (26 per cent); and having to take time off following mental health struggles (21 per cent).

Additionally, more than half (53 per cent) of professionals polled said they had contemplated leaving their profession or organisation because of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) concerns. 

Also in the research, three quarters (73 per cent) of professionals polled reported experiencing barriers to progression in their careers. These included a lack of clear pathways (52 per cent); lack of support from line managers (51 per cent); discrimination in formal promotion/progression processes (35 per cent); and a lack of role models in senior positions (33 per cent). 

“Experiences of professional culture ultimately shape professionals’ career trajectories and their access to opportunities to progress and develop,” the report said.