More than a third of students have been discriminated against at work

A survey of nearly 250 students and graduates, carried out by Milkround, found 37 percent of respondents had been discriminated against.

Overall, 31 percent of those who had been discriminated against said they faced age discrimination, with 30 percent getting singled out based on their ethnicity. Male and female respondents had very different experiences of discrimination when grouped separately, with males finding ethnicity the most common form. Female respondents felt they were most often the victim of age discrimination (40 percent) while nearly half (44 percent) of males battled ethnic discrimination.

An overwhelming 86 percent felt they did not receive appropriate help from their employer, calling into question the practices in place to protect employees who feel at risk in the workplace.

Of all the respondents, 52 percent claimed to have witnessed one of their colleagues become the victim of discrimination. Again ethnicity was at the centre of the discrimination for three in five, but gender and age discrimination were also common with almost a third witnessing both.

The survey suggests much needs to be done to tackle discrimination if it is to be eradicated from business. Students consider Individuals taking a greater interest in how their colleagues are treated as the most effective way to protect the working lives of all.

In the view of Milkround’s students and graduates, discrimination comes from the top down: 53 percent claim staff in non-managerial roles are likely to suffer with low-level management, singled out by a majority of 38 percent being the worst offenders. Despite this, a third added that peer-to-peer discrimination was even more of a problem.

When asked which industries were most prone to discrimination, 29 percent of males and females said banking and financial services. Only females thought there was a worse industry, with 31 percent singling out retail. Employers should take note that 69 percent of respondents are more likely to apply to a firm with a clear equal opportunities policy and nearly half (47 percent) think the best way to tackle workplace discrimination is to take a greater interest in how colleagues are treated.

Milkround spokesperson Mike Barnard said: “Discrimination in the workplace continues to play on the minds of students and graduates before they’ve even taken the first steps on their career paths. Taking a job while studying at university gives an insight into the challenges faced on a day-to-day basis, and it’s encouraging to see looking out for colleagues is viewed as the best way to fight discrimination. If every business had such a supportive atmosphere with zero tolerance on bullying and a close eye on any treatment that might be deemed unfair, discrimination would rarely raise its ugly head.”

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