A recent study conducted by recruiter Barrington Hibbert Associates has unveiled a stark reality in the workplace: one in four employees has experienced discrimination that has hindered their career advancement.

The study, which delves into various facets of discrimination, highlights the impact on individuals based on their ethnicity, sexuality, religion, age, or gender.

The research found that 27 percent of respondents considered diversity and inclusion to be, at best, a mediocre priority in their workplaces.

Even more concerning, one in ten employees reported feeling like they did not fit in at their jobs, painting a disconcerting picture of work environments across multiple industries, including finance, legal, healthcare, and education.

A striking revelation from the study is that half of the respondents emphasised the importance of representation at the senior level. They believed that this would make decision-making processes more inclusive and equitable.

However, one in five employees did not feel represented by senior team leaders or senior management, which led to feelings of disappointment, exclusion, and anger.

What is ‘code-switching’?

The study also shed light on the phenomenon of “code switching,” where ethnic minorities feel compelled to change their behaviour in the workplace to conform to a certain culture, often suppressing their true selves. Additionally, the study highlighted mental health issues and disabilities as significant barriers to career progression.

Sheila Flavell CBE, Chief Operating Officer of FDM Group, commented on the findings, saying, “Equality, diversity, and inclusion must be high on the agenda, especially in industries such as tech where we are seeing major skills shortages. Stereotypes and bias are still evident within such industries, holding back the opportunity for growth, creativity, and innovation.”

Flavell went on to stress the importance of addressing these issues, saying, “For groups that still experience barriers in the workplace, such as women, their potential is being held back, and often, this discourages them from even entering the industry. Businesses must make a conscious effort to offer support and initiatives to improve their approach, including training courses, flexible working initiatives, and mentoring opportunities for all.”

The study’s results serve as a sobering reminder that discrimination in the workplace remains a pressing issue, and organisations across various sectors must take proactive steps to promote diversity, inclusion, and equal opportunities for all employees.





Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.