Discrimination in the Workplace
28th August 2023
The majority of workers in Ireland say they have been the victim of and/or have witnessed discrimination at work, a new survey by Matrix Recruitment has found.
The 2023 Workplace Equality Survey found that almost three in four (72%) workers have had discrimination issues in their place of employment. Of those, 20% said they have personally experienced discrimination at work and 32% say they’ve witnessed it. One in five said they have both witnessed and been a victim of discrimination in the workplace. Now in its sixth year, the 2023 survey of more than 1,400 adults covers a wide range of workplace issues including discrimination, racism, workplace bullying, and gender pay gaps.
Many forms of discrimination
Inequality in relation to pay and age (30%) are the most common forms of discrimination prevalent in the workplace according to the findings, alongside gender discrimination (25%).
Other types of workplace discrimination experienced or witnessed by respondents include:
•Discrimination against people with a disability (17%)
•Discrimination based on nationality (16%)
•Discrimination based on being a member of the traveller community (14%)
Pay transparency is important according to 92% of respondents and in relation to pay discrimination, 44% of respondents said they know a colleague of the opposite sex (and with the same role/responsibility) who is being paid more than them. Of those, more than half were female (56%).
When asked how they would respond to a colleague of the opposite sex being paid more for the same work, the majority of those surveyed said they would take action. Almost half (46%) said they would address the issue with their boss. Just 4% said they would do nothing.
Other respondents said they would:
•Actively look for a new job (19%)
•Consider leaving if another opportunity came along (16%)
•Ask for a pay rise (14%)
Breda Dooley of Matrix Recruitment said:
“The significant number of respondents aware of pay disparities between colleagues of the opposite sex with similar roles is deeply concerning.
It’s clear that we have to continue striving to ensure that all workplaces value equality and fairness, irrespective of gender. However, it is encouraging to see the increasing number of individuals willing to address the issue with their bosses, indicating a growing desire for change.
Fostering an environment where everyone feels safe to discuss and challenge pay discrepancies is crucial if we are to ever achieve equality in this area.”
Ageism in a digital world
In both the 2022 and 2023 Workplace Equality Survey undertaken by Matrix Recruitment, ageism in the workplace was identified as an issue by 78% of respondents.
More than two thirds of those surveyed said that workers over the age of 50 have fewer promotional opportunities then their younger colleagues, a jump of 19 percentage points on last year’s findings.
When asked at what age it might be difficult to move job, nearly half (48%) said those aged 50 and above would struggle.
On a more positive note, the majority of workers surveyed (89%) agree that people over the age of 50 have as much to contribute to the workplace as those under the age of 40. Of those:
•55% said that over 50s have more life skills
•51% said they would be able to mentor and guide younger colleagues
•48% said that mature workers are more reliable than younger people
Of the 11% who said that over 50s have less to contribute to the workplace than under 40s, half said that over 50s are not up-to-speed with the digital world/technology and do not understand new ways of communicating.
Impact of parenthood
More than two thirds (68%) of workers surveyed said that parenthood impacts a woman’s career progression, highlighting the gender bias that prevails in the workplace.
When asked why, respondents said:
•There is an unconscious bias towards women who may be considering starting a family
•Women are still considered the primary carers (55%)
•The question of a mother’s ability to meet the demands of her professional role prevails in the workplace (40%)
•Mothers are not offered as many promotional opportunities (30%)
“It is disheartening to see that parental gender bias persists in the workplace,” said Brenda Dooley. “The fact that over two-thirds of workers believe that parenthood negatively impacts a woman’s career progression is a clear indication that we have much work to do in supporting working mothers.”
“Additionally, the perception of women as primary caregivers is a damaging stereotype that must be challenged.
Workplace culture needs to evolve and companies and organisations in Ireland need to become the catalyst for positive change, taking collective action to break down these barriers and ensure equal opportunities for all,” she concluded.