New research suggests that an increasing number of Australian businesses are becoming exposed to discrimination lawsuits by deprioritising diversity and inclusion programmes to focus on cutting costs.
According to jobs website Indeed and the annual report: Championing Change: Progress and opportunities for building inclusive workplaces, discrimination remains commonplace for marginalised groups and almost half (49%) of employed Australians state that stereotypes, biases, and microaggressions still persist in their workplace.
Furthermore, the number of Australians hiding their identity in the workplace continues to rise year on year, illustrating that even with Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Belonging (DEIB) programmes in place, fewer employees feel able to bring their true self to work all the time.
Lauren Andersen, Talent Strategy Advisor at Indeed says: “In the current economic climate there may be pressure to shuffle business priorities and budgets. However, it’s critical that employers are not short-sighted and stay the course in
their commitment to Diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB).
The report shows that over a third (34%) of employers are citing cost and budget constraints as the number one reason why DEIB is falling off their to-do lists.
“Employees have told us that they want to work for an organisation that prioritises DEIB,” said Ms Anderson.
“Two in-five working-age Australians are continuing to experience discrimination in the workplace and the majority of employees feel unable to reveal their true selves at work. In this context, pulling back on DEIB commitments could be detrimental to an organisation.
“Investing in DEIB is not only morally and socially necessary, but also hugely beneficial for a business’s performance. There should be no need to compromise on DEIB if it is integrated into the core of a business’s operations,” she said.
Most Australians afraid of discrimination at work
The report also found that two-thirds (64%) of employees say they conceal part of their identity at work at least some of the time.
Almost half (49%) of respondents also said that stereotypes, biases, and microaggressions exist in their workplace, with over a third (37%) saying they have either personally experienced and/or witnessed discrimination at work. This is an experience shared by:
- 40% of people with a disability
- 31% of First Nations peoples
- 27% of LGBTIQA+ people
- 35% of first-generation migrants
- 21% of second-generation migrants,
- 28% of single parents and caregivers.
A worrying 18% of Australians reported hiding part of their identity at work ‘all of the time’ in 2023, compared to 17% in 2022, 15% in 2021, and only 11% in 2020.
If this trend continues, by 2024 we could reasonably expect the number of people who are hiding part of their identity at work to have doubled since 2020.
Meanwhile, the proportion of people who say they never hide part of their identity has declined from nearly half (47%) in 2020, to less than a third (29%) in 2023.
Discrimination worryingly persistent in Australian workplaces
Almost half (49%) of Australians say stereotypes, biases, and microaggressions exist in their workplace, with over a third (37%) saying they have either personally experienced and/or witnessed discrimination at work.
People with a disability are the most likely to report discrimination at work, with 40% saying they have personally experienced an act of discrimination.
This is an experience shared by 31% of First Nations peoples, 27% of LGBTIQA+ people, 35% of first-generation migrants, 21% of second-generation migrants, and 28% of single parents and caregivers.
Of further concern, nearly one-in-four Australian workers (23%) who have either experienced or witnessed discrimination at work say their organisation took no action, while a further 9% said the incident was never reported to their workplace at all.
Financy writes about gender financial equality, diversity and inclusion. We also provide the software, Impacter which makes DEI performance easy and accessible for business. We also publish the quarterly Financy Women’s Index report which measures timeframes to equality in Australia. To stay up to date with us, subscribe to our newsletter.