Ageism most common form of discrimination in the office

The most common form of discrimination in the workplace is ageism.

This was discovered by ADP, an American provider of HR management software and services, who found that 8 per cent of employees say they have experienced age discrimination at work. Ageism is felt more by younger workers, with 19 per cent of 18-24-year-olds saying they are most likely to be affected by this.

Gender and appearance discrimination come in second and third at 7 per cent and 6 per cent.

Only a third (33 per cent) of workers feel comfortable raising a complaint if they experience discrimination at work.

List of reasons why staff can feel discriminated against are:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Disability
  • Education,
  • Background,
  • Mental health
  • Family circumstances
  • Neurological differences

However, 73 per cent of employees say they have never felt discriminated against at work.

Jeff Phipps, managing director at ADP, said:

Workplace discrimination has been making headlines in recent years, whether its ageism, religion, disability or racial discrimination. Yet, as shown in the research findings, most employees find it hard to raise claims or are unaware of what to do.

Employers must stay alert to this issue, take a proactive approach to tackle potential prejudice and unconscious bias and ensure equal treatment for all. A lack of adequate protocol or process in some organisations could undermine efforts to increase inclusivity and create a culture of openness.

It is also important to encourage those employees who don’t experience discrimination to support those who do, as discrimination in the workplace can be extremely alienating.

This is especially important as mass moves to remote working in the wake of COVID-19 change workforce dynamics. Policies and procedures may need to adapt accordingly to take account of how workers are being managed and supported in this new and uncertain environment.

Post-pandemic, employers are having to make a lot of difficult decisions very rapidly around strategy, operations and jobs, but they can’t afford to make mistakes that could open them up to calls of discrimination. How businesses are seen to treat workers is more important in tough times than ever for worker morale, but also brand reputation too.

ADP spoke to 11,000 workers globally to gather these results





Darius is the editor of HRreview. He has previously worked as a finance reporter for the Daily Express. He studied his journalism masters at Press Association Training and graduated from the University of York with a degree in History.