Almost a quarter of employees have experienced discrimination in the workplace, despite half of companies implementing diversity policies1, according to new research*
Indeed surveyed more than 1,000 employees, 500 senior managers and 250 HR managers to analyse attitudes and experiences of diversity in the workplace.
Nearly a quarter (23%) of workers say they have experienced some form of discrimination in the workplace.
This increases to nearly half (49%) for employees from a minority ethnic background and 47% for employees who identify as LGBTQ+. A third (33%) of workers with disabilities say they have also experienced discrimination at work.
Most workers believe the employee experience has been relatively the same over the past five years,, however 22% said things have improved for LGBTQ+ employees, and 20% for female workers and employees from a minority ethnic background.
Bullying most common discrimination
The two most common forms of discrimination are being bullied by colleagues and not feeling opinions are valued, experienced by 36% of those who have faced prejudice at work.
Meanwhile, more than a third (35%) of those discriminated against said they had been overlooked for a promotion or pay rise.
Workers with disabilities are the most likely to say they have been denied the same opportunities as their colleagues, experienced by over half (53%) of staff with a disability.
Meanwhile, LGBTQ+ staff are most likely to experience bullying from their colleagues, with almost three quarters (72%) reporting they have faced this kind of discrimination.
Employees not in management roles are not alone in having faced discrimination at work, however, with 28% of senior managers and 31% of HR directors saying they have had similar experiences.
When asked if their company has a diversity policy, only half (51%) of the companies have one in place and a quarter (25%) are not aware of the plans to implement a diversity policy.
The level of employees experiencing discrimination is despite the vast majority (79%) of managers saying they are satisfied with their organisations approach to diversity, inclusion and wellbeing.
The majority of managers say they feel comfortable with addressing discrimination and taking action to resolve issues in the workplace. However, the level of comfort depends on the group and there are variances in the responses.
For example, 70% of managers said they feel comfortable tackling discrimination against female workers but this declines to (63%) with LGBTQ+ employees.
Encouragingly, workplaces have a wide range of initiatives in place to tackle discrimination with the most common being unconscious bias training (24%), mentorship programmes (24%) and a dedicated diversity, inclusion and belonging lead (22%).
There are also signs that global events and movements have jolted organisations into proactive steps. Of those with a diversity, inclusion and belonging lead, nearly half (49%) of managers said their company had adopted the role in the past two years.
Misty Gaither, Senior Director, Global Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging at Indeed, commented:
“Millions of people have experienced various forms of discrimination at work from bullying to not being valued or left out altogether because of their identity. This research should be the realisation to many employers that now is the time to clearly define and evolve the culture and to no longer accept the status quo. Employees expect and are inspecting how organisations are prioritising diversity, inclusion, and belonging as well as how the company shows up in the world.
“While Covid-19 and social justice campaigns have been the catalyst for many organisations to re-evaluate their commitment to diversity and inclusion, our research lays bare how far there is to go before employers can say the commitment has been realised with tangible, structural, and systemic changes. We have quite the path before we can truly say ‘mission accomplished’.
“Education and awareness are the first steps in driving change so it is encouraging to see employers implement a range of policies, processes and initiatives to help move the needle forward. There’s also optimism in the recent rise of inclusion specific roles across businesses. This momentum will need to continue for employers to truly evolve into psychologically safe organisations that are inclusive and everyone feels they belong.
She added: “For organisations in the early phases of becoming more diverse and inclusive it’s ok to feel uncomfortable. Change is uncomfortable and this is a fundamental shift in how businesses operate. Trying new things often means feeling vulnerable but focusing on the culture helps to create an environment where all employees can thrive and your organisation will benefit in the long run.” ”