The majority of workers in Ireland say they have experienced discrimination in some form at work, a new survey by Matrix Recruitment has revealed.
The 2022 Workplace Equality Survey found that almost three in four (71%) workers have experienced some form of discrimination in their place of employment, a 54% increase on last year’s findings (46%, 2021).
Now in its fifth year, the 2022 survey of more than 2,700 adults covers a wide range of workplace issues including discrimination, racism, workplace bullying, and gender pay gaps.
“No one should have to put up with any sort of discriminatory behaviour and we encourage victims to address the problem with a manager or trusted colleague”
Of those who have experienced prejudice at work, ethnic discrimination was found to be one of the most common forms, identified by 30% of respondents.
Sexual harassment and stereotyping
29% of people surveyed said that they have experienced sexual harassment while one in four said that they had been stereotyped because of their gender.
Other key areas of discrimination identified by respondents included:
- religious discrimination (24%)
- exclusion from activities because of age (21%) and
- pay discrimination (23%)
On the topic of pay discrimination, a quarter of men said they knew a colleague of the opposite sex and with the same role/responsibility who is being paid less than them. This compared to 17% of women who said they knew a colleague with the same role/responsibility, of the opposite sex, that is being paid less than them.
When respondents were asked what they would do if they discovered that a colleague with similar years of service and of the opposite sex was being paid more for the same work, more than a third said they would address it with their manager or boss (35%), and a quarter said they would actively look for a new job (26%). Just 5% said they would do nothing.
Racism at work
73% of workers surveyed believe that Ireland’s workplaces have a problem with racism and almost half (44%) agree that ethnic minorities have fewer promotional opportunities than their colleagues. Just a quarter (25%) believe that ethnic minorities have equal opportunities.
This is a well-recognised problem and work by employers is underway in an effort to reduce and ultimately wipe out discrimination from the workplace with more than three quarters (77%) of people surveyed saying they have undergone training at work on issues relating to equality and discrimination. This is up significantly on last year’s figure of just 39% who had undergone training.
“Any form of discrimination or harassment is totally unacceptable, and our most recent findings show that it continues to manifest in the workplace, despite the strict laws in place to protect workers,” said Breda Dooley of Matrix Recruitment.
“No one should have to put up with any sort of discriminatory behaviour and we encourage victims to address the problem with a manager or trusted colleague.”
Bullying in the workplace was identified as a problem by the majority of respondents (91%). In fact, almost three quarters (73%) say they have witnessed or have been the victim of bullying or harassment in a work-based setting.
Of those surveyed who said that they were bullied or witnessed bullying:
Nearly half said it involved disparaging remarks about appearance, race, sexual orientation, or gender (47%)
Almost a third identified exclusion from work gatherings (30%)
A quarter said it involved humiliation on video calls (27%) or harassment on emails and/or virtual corporate communication platforms (24%)
With remote and hybrid now the norm in many workplaces, Matrix Recruitment’s research spotlighted the alarming finding that 53% of bullying incidents (experienced or witnessed) had taken place in a remote or virtual setting.
Glass ceiling and gender quotas
Almost everyone who took part in the survey (92%) feels that there is a ‘glass ceiling’ for women in the workplace in Ireland. Of those, a third (36%) believe things are improving slowly. Just one in five (19%) said promotional opportunities in the workplace were equal for both men and women, while more than half (56%) feel men have more opportunities to move up the career ladder.
When asked whether they agree with the concept of gender quotas in the workplace, the vast majority of respondents 88%) agreed that gender quotas should be enforced when appointing senior management and board directors (73%).
“Gender quotas can reduce gender wage gaps, lead to more flexible work options and allow for more diverse perspectives and better working conditions for everyone. The findings in this survey are particularly timely, following the introduction of the Corporate Governance (Gender Balance) Bill to the Dáil which, if enacted, would require companies to have at least 40% of each gender on their boards,” Dooley said.