Racism and Ageism in the Workplace

Despite initiatives and legislation designed to help improve equality in the workplace, too many people continue to suffer unlawful discrimination throughout their working lives.


Racial Discrimination Still Prevalent

A recent study published by the TUC revealed that one type of discrimination, racial discrimination, is still all too prevalent in the workplace.
The research, which questioned more than 1,000 Black or minority ethnic (BME) workers, found that as many as 37% of them have been bullied, abused or singled out at work.
Looking at the findings in more detail, they show that:
  • Nearly half (47%) of those who were verbally abused at work say this was because of their race.
  • 42% of those bullied or harassed say their direct manager was the main perpetrator.
  • Only 20% reported the bullying and felt their complaint was dealt with properly. Around 16% said they were treated less well after making a complaint.
  • Women experience particular discrimination. The study found that 41% wanted to leave their jobs because of bullying and harassment, but could not afford to.
  • 19% have experienced discrimination such as being denied training or promotion.
“Racism still haunts the Britain workplace,” commented TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady. “Racist bullying, harassment and victimisation should have no place anywhere, least of all at work.  And it’s clear that people are being denied opportunities because of their race.”
“Employers must take a zero-tolerance attitude and treat every complaint seriously,” she added. “It’s a scandal that so few black and Asian workers feel their bosses are not dealing with racism properly.”

More Action Required to Tackle Discrimination

Following its study, the TUC has called for more action to help protect workers from suffering such discrimination. In particular, it is calling for:
  • New third party harassment rules to protect workers who deal with the public, making employers responsible for abuse suffered;
  • Every employer to adopt a zero-tolerance policy for racism at work, including a clear process for reporting it;
  • A full Government strategy on race equality, including action on harassment at work and online;
  • Legislation requiring employers to publish data on race and recruitment, salary, promotion and dismissal.

Younger Workers Feel Discriminated Against

In addition to being subjected to unlawful discrimination on the grounds of race, workers are also continuing to be treated unfairly because of their age – another characteristic that is protected under equality legislation.
A recent study by the Chartered Accountants’ Benevolent Association (CABA) revealed that 21% of respondents believed their employers didn’t take them seriously because of their age, reports People Management.
Younger employees in particular were concerned about ageism, with 43% of the 16 – 24 age group saying they were not being taken seriously, compared to 21% of those aged between 55 and 64.
Women also appear to feel greater concern about not being taken seriously because of their age, with 25% saying it was a cause of worry compared to only 17% of men.
“It’s clear that despite legislation and initiatives to make the workplace fair and equal, some employees still feel discriminated against – because of their age, gender or how they look,” said Kelly Feehan, service director for CABA, reports People Management.

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