October 4, 2018

Shocking Stories of Workplace Discrimination

The Law

In today’s world, discrimination in the workplace should be a thing of the past.

Since the passing of the Equality Act 2010, it’s been illegal to treat someone unfairly based on:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

Discrimination covers a wide variety of things. It can range from not getting a position or promotion because of prejudice to derogatory comments made to intentionally embarrass someone.

The Reality

Despite being illegal in the UK, discrimination in the workplace is still widespread.

Discrimination based on age, sex, gender reassignment, race, and sexual orientation remains a reality for many:

  • 80% of women believe gender discrimination in the workplace is a notable problem
  • 7,500 age-related discrimination tribunals were launched in 2016/17
  • 1 in 8 transgender people have been physically attacked in the workplace because of their identity
  • One in five LGBTQ community members have been discriminated against when trying to find work
  • More than one-third (37%) of black or minority ethnic (BME) employees have been discriminated against, bullied or singled out because of their race

The current environment in UK workplaces is having a serious effect on communities who face discrimination. Those in the LGBTQ community admit to having to hide who they are to get fair treatment. For example, over half of transgender workers in the UK (51%) have tried to cover their identity when applying for work out of fear of discrimination.

What can be done?

Tell someone

If you feel discriminated against or witness discriminative behaviour, the first thing to do is to tell somebody. If you cannot report it to your manager – maybe you don’t feel comfortable or they are involved in the discriminative behaviour – then HR should be your first port of call.

Establish the situation

Try and get a clear picture of what it is that you witnessed or what has contributed to you feeling marginalised. This will help HR understand how best to approach the issue, and how to help. Don’t worry about feeling emotional or scared of telling the truth – it’s only through taking action that the issues of discrimination can be quashed.

Educate yourself

The world of employment law can be a bit confusing, but it’s worth working out what your rights are and how they relate to your day-to-day being. As we mentioned above, there are several explicit protected characteristics. It’s illegal to discriminate based on these characteristics. If you experience discrimination based on other issues not outlined under such characteristics, you can still raise a grievance.

As with any issue you experience in the workplace, if in doubt, speak to HR. In general, if something feels wrong then it probably is.

For managers, upskilling yourself is easily accomplished with a Level 3 Leadership and Management Apprenticeship Programme for Team Leaders and Supervisors. This will help you better understand how your role fits within your team and particularly what you can do to support them throughout any struggles they face.

Looking forward

Sarah Aubrey, CEO at DPG Plc., said “whilst we might feel like discrimination in the workplace has come a long way even over the last decade, it is sadly still an issue in the modern workplace. Legislation has created a deterrent, but there are instances of people suffering in silence – whether that’s because they don’t know who to turn to or they fear being further stigmatised.

“Employers need to work hard to create a positive, inclusive environment where issues of all types can be broached to a clear point of contact and dealt with without fear of judgement. Managers need to receive training to help them spot potential issues and see them from the victim’s perspective.

“As I said, we’ve come a long way. Our findings sadly show there’s still some way to go.”

To highlight some of the difficulties people face, we have sourced stories from people who have suffered discrimination in the workplace.

The following examples demonstrate just how serious the problem still is.

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