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Discrimination not reported by majority of employees

More than a third (39%) of UK workers rated their workplace inclusive - ©danijelala/Adobe Stock

Three in 10 UK workers say they have been discriminated against at work, but 64% of them did not report it, according to the results of a survey commissioned by recruitment business Michael Page.

Employees often fear that reporting discrimination could put their jobs at risk, according to inclusive leadership specialist, Jackie Handy.

She told HR magazine: “It is often extremely difficult to stand up to your employer and report unfair or discriminatory treatment. Overwhelmingly we want to keep our job, so we choose to let poor behaviour slide.

"We also want to keep the peace, instead of risking relationships.”

Read more: Wanting to ‘hire fewer white men’ not discrimination, tribunal finds

Ken Janssens, co-founder of DEI comparison website Windō, added that organisational hierarchies can also exacerbate the issue. 

He told HR magazine: “If a senior colleague makes a discriminatory comment, without the proven assurance that your company upholds a zero-tolerance policy against discrimination and a commitment to psychological safety, employees are likely to fear the fall-out of what speaking up against a more senior member of staff might do to their career.”

The study also revealed that 39% of UK workers rate their workplace as inclusive. Just 17% rated their senior leadership team as diverse.

Age discrimination was the most frequently experienced type of discrimination (47%) among survey respondents, followed by gender (37%) and race (30%) discrimination.

People over 50 and workers in their 30s were the most likely to say that they had been subjected to age discrimination.

Emma Obanye, CEO of OneTech, a non-profit for entrepreneurs from underserved backgrounds, said that HR teams can help employees feel safe to report issues by highlighting clear reporting channels and holding perpetrators accountable.

Read more: Less than 1% of discrimination reports reach tribunal

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: “HR teams play a pivotal role in cultivating an environment where employees feel empowered to report all incidents of marginalisation and discrimination. 

“This starts with establishing clear and accessible channels for reporting said grievances, ensuring confidentiality at all times and protection from retaliation or penalisation. Clearly signposted and openly discussed reporting policies and procedures reassure employees that their concerns will be addressed quickly and always taken seriously. 

“Similarly, HR professionals should lead by example. If you want to create a company culture with equity, fairness and empathy at the centre of it, then any perpetrator of discrimination must be held accountable for their actions. HR has a key role to play in making this happen.”