In an eye-opening survey conducted by the global employee experience agency, thisishome.co.uk, more than 4,000 employees across 17 different industries were asked about their experiences with discrimination in the workplace.
The results revealed a troubling reality: one in four employees have faced discrimination, prompting over 85 percent of them to actively seek new job opportunities.
The study delved into the various forms of discrimination that employees reported, shedding light on the widespread challenges faced by workers. The most prevalent types of discrimination cited were:
- Gender – 39%
- Ethnicity – 25%
- Disability – 12%
- Age – 8%
- Religion – 5%
Pervasive discrimination continues
Other forms of discrimination, including physical appearance (5%) and sexuality (3%), were also reported. This data underscores the fact that a significant number of individuals experience negative workplace environments due to factors beyond their control.
Of particular concern, the survey revealed that more than half (54%) of employees living with a disability have felt discriminated against at work. This stands in stark contrast to non-disabled colleagues, among whom only 19 percent reported experiencing discrimination. Furthermore, those with disabilities consistently scored lower on all measures of employee experience, including feelings of belonging, purpose, and leadership.
This pervasive discrimination issue is not only causing distress but also affecting staff retention rates. A staggering 71 percent of employees with disabilities are actively or casually exploring new job opportunities—20 percent more than those without disabilities (51%).
Delving deeper into the intersectionality of discrimination, the survey found that 65 percent of individuals who are both racially minoritised and living with a disability have experienced workplace discrimination. Alarmingly, 83 percent of them are actively seeking alternative employment.
Hattie Roche, Co-Managing Director and Strategy Chief at thisishome.co.uk, expressed her concerns, saying:
“Equality, diversity, and inclusion is not a new priority—conversations around discrimination at work have been happening since the ’60s. It’s sad to see so many employees are still experiencing discrimination in the workplace.”
She added, “Discrimination makes people feel like they don’t belong, that they aren’t valued. For reasons they cannot control. Discrimination limits the opportunities someone has. Businesses are ignoring or losing talented people who have the potential to have a brilliant impact – culturally and organisationally. Organisations need to recognise the different perspectives and insight diverse talent brings, as valuable and design equitable work experiences. Everyone deserves a safe place to thrive, where they feel seen, heard, and understood.”
Roche highlighted the unique challenges faced by individuals living with disabilities, emphasising the urgent need for businesses to address these issues. “Our research found that those living with a disability feel less confident about speaking up, and when they do, they don’t feel listened to. Their experience at work often has a negative impact on their overall physical and mental well-being. There’s an urgent need for businesses to not only look inward but also reach out to external experts in ED&I. Experts who come from an authentic place of understanding because they have lived experience of the discrimination others are facing.”
The survey results serve as a stark reminder that discrimination persists in workplaces worldwide, necessitating concerted efforts from organisations to create equitable environments where all employees can thrive.
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.