Equality not seen

Men and women - and different age groups - assess workplace diversity differently.

A survey conducted in line with International Women’s Day suggests that UK employees believe there is still some way to go to improve equality in the workplace, despite discrimination being illegal in the UK under the Equality Act 2010.

VBQ Speakers surveyed 1,000 UK adults who are currently employed in the UK to find out what they think about diversity in their workplace. Half (50 per cent) of those surveyed believed that women are under-represented in senior management roles. Women and men responded roughly the same to this question, with 51 per cent and 47 per cent respectively. Underrepresentation of women was perceived to be less apparent (though still significant) in relation to entry level roles. Here, 38 per cent of those polled said they believed women are underrepresented.

The survey also asked participants whether they think additional factors such as age, race, religion, disability, gender identity or sexual orientation negatively affect opportunities for women. Opinions on this question varied significantly depending on the age of the respondents. Almost half (49 per cent) of 18-24 year-olds believe these factors negatively impact women in the workplace. 53 per cent of 25-34 year olds think the same. For 35-44 year olds, this number drops slightly to 43 per cent. But the number falls more sharply for 45-54 year olds with 31 per cent, and even further with over 55s with 21 per cent.

When it came to reporting discrimination, over half (55 per cent) of respondents said they would be happy to do so, with only 18 per cent saying they would not. However, here is where there is a more significant disparity between responses from men and women. 61 per cent of men said they would feel happy reporting instances of discrimination, compared to just 49 per cent of women. Additionally, only 58 per cent of those polled thought their organisation had a clear procedure for reporting discrimination.

“The survey suggests that UK businesses still have a lot of work to do on gender equality and diversity in the workplace,” said VBQ Speakers founder and director, Leo von Bülow-Quirk. “Not only do they have to work harder to assure their employees that diverse groups are represented; they also need to foster constructive conservations between the different demographics in their organisation to ensure that the issue doesn’t fragment their workforce.”

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