1 in 4 employees feel the effects of discrimination

A recent study by Barrington Hibbert Associates has cast a stark light on the ongoing issues of workplace discrimination, revealing that 25% of employees feel their career progression has been impeded by discrimination based on ethnicity, sexuality, religion, age, or gender. This impediment has profound implications across a spectrum of industries, including finance, legal, healthcare, and education.

The research further unearthed that nearly three in 10 employees perceive diversity and inclusion to be merely an average priority within their organisations, suggesting a lukewarm commitment to addressing these critical issues. Moreover, a disheartening 10% of the workforce feel a sense of alienation at work, unable to find their place within the professional environment.

The significance of diversity at the senior management level is underscored by 50% of the survey's participants, who believe that diverse leadership is crucial for inclusive decision-making. Yet, the data shows that one in five employees do not feel represented by their senior team leaders, an oversight that can stir feelings of disappointment, exclusion, or anger among the workforce.

One of the study's most telling findings is the prevalence of "code-switching," a phenomenon particularly common among ethnic minorities, where individuals feel compelled to alter their behaviour to assimilate into the prevailing corporate culture. This pressure to conform can often mask an individual's true identity and contribute to a non-inclusive work environment.

Additionally, the study highlights the barriers mental health issues and disabilities present in career advancement, often overshadowing employees' competencies and contributions.

Sheila Flavell CBE, Chief Operating Officer of FDM Group, weighs in on the findings with a clarion call for action: "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's comments touch on the systemic nature of the problem, particularly in the tech sector, where diversity could be the key to unlocking innovation and addressing the skills gap. She notes the specific challenges faced by women and other groups who continue to confront barriers in the workplace, often deterring them from pursuing careers in certain fields.

She advocates for businesses to proactively dismantle these barriers by introducing and promoting support and initiatives aimed at fostering a more inclusive workplace. These measures include providing training courses that educate and sensitize employees on diversity issues, implementing flexible working arrangements to accommodate different needs, and establishing mentoring opportunities that empower all employees to reach their full potential.

The study's insights serve as a stark reminder of the work that remains to be done to cultivate workplaces where diversity is not just an aspirational goal but a lived reality. It underscores the importance of proactive measures and a steadfast commitment from organisations to champion diversity and inclusion, not only as a moral imperative but as a strategic business advantage.