"57% of employees had witnessed discrimination or a lack of inclusivity whilst at work"
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Promoting diversity and inclusion within the workplace is key to creating a successful organisation where each employee feels equal, happy and respected.
When a company fosters a culture of inclusion, they’re much more likely to see improved mental wellbeing, increased productivity, higher retention rates and a more diverse set of talents amongst employees.
Unfortunately, not all businesses in the UK focus on inclusion, diversity and equality as much as they should. In 2019, we conducted our first Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity in the Workplace Survey to find out just how inclusive UK workplaces were.
Now three years have passed, we wanted to explore the changes to UK workplace cultures. Have workplaces become more inclusive over time? And what areas are still a cause for concern?
To find out, we surveyed employees from 133 different UK companies, asking them whether they think their company is inclusive, whether they have experienced discrimination at work and what areas of inclusion their company needs to improve upon.
Here’s what we found…
- Happily, the majority of UK workplaces are seen as inclusive by their employees. However, one in five (20%) people don't think their company is an inclusive place to work, down from over one in four (27%) in 2019
- Classism is currently the most prevalent diversity-related problem in UK workplaces
- A third of UK companies need to improve on their levels of socio-economic diversity and inclusion
- 11% (over 1 in 10) of employees have been discriminated against at work, and this wasn’t dealt with properly in 8% of cases
- The North East (40%) and Scotland (33%) score lowest for the percentage of people working in inclusive workplaces
- The North West has the most inclusive workplaces, with 86% of employees saying they work in an inclusive environment
How many UK employees have experienced discrimination and inequality in the workplace?
To discover how inclusive UK workplaces are, we asked employees whether they feel their current company is an inclusive place to work.
Our survey found that:
- One in five (20%) employees don't think their current company is an inclusive place to work, although this has improved from just over one in four (27%) in 2019
- 57% of employees had witnessed discrimination or a lack of inclusivity whilst at work
Lack of inclusivity at work can be caused by factors such as unequal pay, insufficient support for disabled employees, non-inclusive company socials and frequent acts of discrimination. Here are the leading causes our survey revealed.
Unequal pay is the top cause of inequality in UK workplaces
Our survey revealed that more than a quarter of employees are aware that they or a colleague are being paid less than someone else in the same position.
Ensuring pay parity for those in the same job roles is a vital part of creating an inclusive workplace, avoiding inequality, unfairness and even favouritism. Unequal pay causes employees to feel unrecognised for the work they put in.
“29% of female respondents have experienced pay disparity in the workplace, whereas only 25% of males said the same”
Employees in London are most likely to experience pay inequality, while those in the North East are most likely to receive ‘pay parity’. Though 20% of people in the North East are still aware of instances in their company where salaries are unequal.
Our survey also revealed that the gender pay gap still exists. 29% of female respondents have experienced pay disparity in the workplace, whereas only 25% of males said the same.
UK companies are failing to make reasonable adjustments for disabled employees
UK companies have a legal requirement to make reasonable adjustments to ensure disabled employees are not disadvantaged. Under the Equality Act of 2010, it’s unlawful for employers to discriminate against disabled people.
Yet, our survey found that over one in five UK companies lack the facilities, access or opportunities for employees with physical or mental disabilities. Companies in Scotland are two times more likely to be hindering people with disabilities by not making necessary adjustments or providing opportunities for them.
To help create an inclusive workplace that allows all employees to succeed, Gov.UK has produced a list of reasonable adjustments to help those with disabilities. This includes adapting the recruitment process, making the workplace physically accessible and allowing for the use of assistive technology.
The majority of companies aren’t dealing with workplace discrimination
It’s against the law to discriminate someone because of a personal characteristic such as religion, sex, gender reassignment, age, disability, race or sexual orientation.
“14% have left their company, or know someone who has, due to discriminatory behaviour at work”
However, our survey found that over 1 in 10 employees have been subjected to discriminatory behaviour in the workplace.
Yet, even more worryingly, 73% of those employees discriminated against say that it was not dealt with by the company. This often leads to employees taking matters into their own hands and removing themselves from the environment. Of the employees we asked, 14% have left their company, or know someone who has, due to discriminatory behaviour at work.
This proves just how much discrimination and a lack of inclusion can lead to higher turnover rates and low job satisfaction.
Drinking culture in UK leads to non-inclusive company socials
Company socials are a great way to boost team morale and build relationships between colleagues. But in order to do so company socials need to be inclusive of all colleagues.
In the UK, there is an undeniable culture of drinking as a social activity. However, not all employees drink alcohol and company socials should reflect this. When social events focus around alcohol, it excludes those employees who don’t drink.
Our survey found that one in six employees have noticed pressure to drink alcohol during work social events, with some colleagues avoiding socials altogether to dodge the pressure. Avoidance of company socials was strongest in London, where 30% of employees won’t attend company socials so they don’t experience pressure to drink.
When looking at different age groups, younger employees are the most likely to avoid company socials because of pressure to drink alcohol. Nearly half (44%) of employees aged 21-24 would avoid company socials for this reason. This figure falls slightly to 19% of those aged 25-34.
If companies are keen to integrate younger employees into their workforce, they need to organise social events that this demographic will feel comfortable attending.
Where it’s worst: which parts of the UK have the least inclusive and diverse workplaces?
Our survey highlighted that different parts of the UK have varying levels of inclusivity and diversity. There are also clear geographical differences around which particular areas of inclusion companies need to focus on.
Discrimination against pregnancy in the workplace, such as insufficient maternity/paternity allowances, was most prevalent in the East Midlands (35%). The East Midlands also had the highest percentage of respondents (41%) highlighting inclusion of all races and religions as an area that their company needs to work on. London followed closely behind, with 37% of respondents citing inclusion for all races and religions as an issue.
Across all regions – apart from the East Midlands – inclusion for all socio-economic backgrounds was the highest priority. 50% of employees in Scotland, 44% in London and 40% in the North East wanted to see improvements in this area.
Gender inequality remains a problem in many UK workplaces
Gender inequality in the workplace can be seen in many different forms. It could be unequal pay, barriers to promotion for women, pregnancy discrimination or preferential treatment towards male colleagues.
In our survey, women were significantly less likely to state their workplace was an inclusive place to work. 75% of female employees said they believe their workplace is inclusive, compared to 88% of male employees.
Nearly one in five (18%) of female respondents have been subjected to discriminatory behaviour in the workplace. More worrying still, 13% said it was not dealt with by the company. This undeniably shows real flaws in the overall culture of some UK workplaces, where efforts are not being made to help women feel respected and safe whilst at work.
In addition, pregnancy discrimination is a key concern for female respondents. 27% of female respondents stated this was the area of inclusion and diversity which they wanted their company to improve.
Focus on change: what areas of inclusion and diversity do UK companies need to improve upon?
Survey respondents cited a number of areas that companies need to work on to improve their levels of inclusion and diversity.
The most prevalent area of concern that needs to be addressed is socio-economic background: a third of UK workplaces need to improve inclusion of different socio-economic backgrounds.
A quarter of survey respondents pointed to issues surrounding disability inclusion and diversity, despite all the laws and regulations in place.
In our 2019 survey, employees felt disability in the workplace was the number one area needing improvement. It could be argued that as the ability to work from home has increased, disabled employees are now able to work for previously inaccessible companies. However, there is clearly still work to be done to ensure disabled employees don’t feel disadvantaged.
The next steps: how can UK workplaces become more inclusive and diverse?
This survey shows that UK companies must do more to become truly inclusive and diverse. Whilst there have been slight improvements when comparing the results of our 2019 survey, there is still much more work to be done.
Being a diverse and inclusive workplace doesn't just benefit the employees, but also the company as a whole. Dedicating time and resources to improving in the areas that employees highlighted can help to establish a more positive culture, which can be enjoyed by all employees.
Here at Wildgoose, we offer a mix of in-person, hybrid and virtual team-building events. These events help to build team relationships, encourage conversations and boost morale. Plus, our team-building activities are great ideas for company socials that don’t involve just drinking alcohol!
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