'Half of UK employees' have experienced some form of workplace discrimination

LGBT+ discrimination is witnessed or experienced by 39% of millennial employees. Photo: Getty Images

Over half of all UK employees have witness or experienced some form of discrimination in the workplace, research suggests.

Glassdoor’s 2019 Diversity & Inclusion Study, based on a study of over 1,000 Brits, found 55% of UK employees have witnessed or experienced racism, ageism, sexism or LGBT+ discrimination at work.

Over a third (37%) said they have experienced or witnessed gender discrimination at work, 31% racism, a quarter discrimination with regards to sexual identity, and 39% ageism.

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This comes as Glassdoor jobs data shows that UK employers recognise more needs to be done to improve diversity and inclusion efforts, since D&I jobs in the UK have more than doubled compared to last year.

Differing experiences and perceptions

Men appear to be more likely to have witnessed or experienced some types of discrimination at work, such as LGBT+ discrimination – 31%, compared with 19% of women – and racism – 36%, compared with 25% of women.

A number of factors may be responsible for this, including men’s own perception of discrimination, Glassdoor said.

Glassdoor’s research found that other types of discrimination have been experienced by employed adults of both genders. More than a third of employed adults – 36% of women and 37% of men – have experienced or witnessed gender discrimination. Well over a third – 37% of women and 42% of men – have experienced or witnessed ageism.

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This suggests that discrimination in general is an issue for many UK workers, regardless of their gender.

Interestingly, the number of employed adults witnessing or experiencing each of the measured forms of discrimination – gender, race, age, LGBTQ – decreases with age.

It’s then ironic that ageism is the most prevalent form of discrimination reported in the survey, with younger employees witnessing or experiencing it more than their older peers. Almost half (48%) of millenials have witnessed or experienced ageism at work, compared with a quarter (25%) of those over the age of 55.

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The survey also found differences across other forms of discrimination by age. Gender discrimination is witnessed or experienced by nearly half (47%) of millennial employees, compared with just 17% of those aged 55 or over.

Racism is witnessed or experienced by 42% of millennial employees, compared with 12% of those aged or over.

LGBT+ discrimination is witnessed or experienced by 39% of millennial employees, compared with just 9% of those age 55 or over.

Increased investment in diversity and inclusion

More than six in 10 (62%) millennial employees believe their company should do more to increase diversity and inclusion, falling to less than half (44%) of employees aged 55 and over demonstrating that the younger workforce may be the ones driving change.

On average, over half (54%) of UK workers believe their companies need to do more to increase diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

The good news is, three quarters of UK employees said their company employs a diverse workforce, while over six in ten (61%) said their company is investing more in diversity and inclusion now than it has in years past.

READ MORE: Over two thirds of LGBT+ people have been sexually harassed at work

Research from Glassdoor’s economic research team found job openings for roles in the UK related to diversity and inclusion have increased by 106% in the UK over the last year.

“This research presents a somewhat worrying picture of the experience employees are having with regards to discrimination at work. Employers clearly recognise there is a problem based on their investment in diversity and inclusion (D&I) increasing through more intense hiring of specialists to focus solely on D&I,” said John Lamphiere, Vice President of EMEA at Glassdoor.

“Creating a company culture that celebrates and respects people for their diverse backgrounds and experiences should be a top priority for all employers. They must be willing and ready to take action to foster a workplace environment in which all people feel they belong.”