Workplace discrimination is widespread, but 73% workers say they never feel discriminated against

25 August, 2020

  • Women remain most concerned by sexism
  • Less than a third (32.67%) of workers would feel comfortable raising a claim in the event of discrimination at work
  • 8% of UK employees have been discriminated against on the grounds of age

London, UK – 25th August 2020: Study shows 73% British workers say they have never felt discriminated against at work with their current employer, according to new research of more than 11,000 workers around the world by the ADP® Research Institute.

Revealing the scale and specifics of perceptions on the issue, the research found that overall, ageism is the most common form of perceived discrimination in the workplace. 8% of respondents say they have been discriminated against on the grounds of their age, with young people (18-24 year olds) the most likely to feel affected (19%), followed by 25-34 year olds (10%) and 45+ year olds (6%).

Gender and appearance are the next most reported forms (7% and 6% respectively) of discrimination. The list of possible reasons for feeling targeted is long, including race, religion and disability as well as education, background, mental health, family circumstances and neurological differences.

The Workforce View 2020 Volume Two post-COVID-19 report explores how employees feel about current issues in the workplace and the future of work, and whether the effects of the pandemic have impacted their perspectives.

Jeff Phipps, Managing Director at ADP, commented: “Workplace discrimination has been making headlines in recent years, whether its ageism, religion, disability or racial discrimination. Yet, as shown in the research findings, most employees find it hard to raise claims or are unaware of what to do.

“Employers must stay alert to this issue, take a proactive approach to tackle potential prejudice and unconscious bias and ensure equal treatment for all. A lack of adequate protocol or process in some organisations could undermine efforts to increase inclusivity and create a culture of openness.

"It is also important to encourage those employees who don't experience discrimination to support those who do, as discrimination in the workplace can be extremely alienating.

“This is especially important as mass moves to remote working in the wake of COVID-19 change workforce dynamics. Policies and procedures may need to adapt accordingly to take account of how workers are being managed and supported in this new and uncertain environment.”

Jeff adds, “Post-pandemic, employers are having to make a lot of difficult decisions very rapidly around strategy, operations and jobs, but they can’t afford to make mistakes that could open them up to calls of discrimination. How businesses are seen to treat workers is more important in tough times than ever for worker morale, but also brand reputation too.”


For more insights, please read ‘The Workforce View 2020 Volume One and Volume Two post-COVID-19’ report.

About the research

The Workforce View 2020 explores employees’ attitudes towards the current world of work and what they expect and hope for from the workplace of the future.

ADP Research Institute surveyed 11,428 workers in six countries around the world between 28 April and 14 May 2020 and compared the findings with the research results from the same six geographies with the same sample sizes between 29 October 2019 and 6 January 2020.The findings are outlined in The Workforce View 2020 Volume Two post-COVID-19.

ADP Research Institute surveyed:

3,808 in Europe (represented by Spain and the UK)

1,909 in North America (represented by the USA)

1,904 in Latin America (represented by Brazil)

3,807 in Asia Pacific (APAC) (represented by China and India)

These countries were chosen as appropriate representative samples of the Asia Pacific, European, North American and Latin American regions at the time the research was conducted. The study included over 3,000 working in the gig economy.

Global results are weighted to represent the size of the working population for each country.     


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Media Contacts:

Hiwot Wolde-Senbet, Flagship Consulting  
Natasha Cobby, Flagship Consulting  
Eleanor Mackintosh, Flagship Consulting