Is the fear of discrimination holding millennials back?

One in five UK employees hide personal information at work out of fear of discrimination, according to a new study. But what does this mean for attracting millennial talent?

One in five UK employees admit to hiding their age, disability, social background or sexuality in the workplace or when applying for a job, according to new research. This stems from a fear of discrimination. The research comes from a study of 2,000 UK employees across the private and public sectors, split by age, gender and disability by Badenoch & Clark, part of The Adecco Group UK and Ireland.

39 per cent of workers surveyed admit that they have experienced a form of bias in the workplace or when applying for a job, but some workers were positive about inclusion in the workplace. 86 per cent believe their organisation employs a broad range of people from all social backgrounds, while almost half think that their organisation embraces diversity and inclusion at a board level (46 per cent) and at management level (43 per cent).

“Whilst it’s great to see that employees are, in some cases, positive about the level of diversity and inclusivity in UK organisations, there is still a long way to go. Each worker that has experienced bias is one too many, and employees will only ever flourish if they feel they can truly be themselves at work,” Nicola Linkleter, President of Professional Staffing said.

“Businesses need to commit to living and breathing diversity and inclusion throughout the entire employee lifecycle and in everything they do – every strategy, every hire, every decision. Ultimately, they should become inclusive by instinct.”

According to workers, the top five improvements they would like their organisations to make are:

  • Diversity and inclusion training (21 per cent)
  • More social events (18 per cent)
  • More consistent diversity and inclusion communication (12 per cent)
  • Mentoring programmes (12 per cent)
  • Depersonalising CVs (11 per cent)

Making workplaces truly inclusive and minimising the negative effects of discrimination can help employees in more ways than just their career, says James Nazroo, Professor of Sociology, University of Manchester and director of the ESRC Centre on dynamics of ethnicity.

“This not only impacts on career progression, but also profoundly on the health and wellbeing of employees. Employers in both the private and public sectors need to really engage in these issues and talk about the problems of discrimination in relation to age, gender, ethnicity and social background, not only to meet their legal responsibilities, but also to improve their workplace cultures and the experiences of their employees.”

Millennials define diversity differently

There is an expanding generational gap in how diversity and inclusion is defined in the workplace. According to a Deloitte report, millennials, who will comprise nearly 75 per cent of the workforce by 2025, believe inclusion is the support for a collaborative environment that values open participation from employees of all backgrounds and perspectives. This is in stark contrast to what previous generations believe, most viewing inclusion in terms of representation and assimilation.

This is why statistics quoting the number or proportion of female, BAME or disabled employees isn’t enough to show true inclusion for younger employees.

Diversity matters to jobseekers

A separate survey from the Institute for Public Relations (IPR) in the US reveals just how important diversity and inclusion is to jobseekers. 47 per cent of millennials consider the diversity and inclusion of a workplace before selecting a job, compared with only 33 per cent of Gen Xers (ages 36 to 51) and 37 per cent of boomers (ages 52 to 70). Traditional recruitment platforms don’t reveal workplace demographics, or companies’ commitment to diversity. And apart from, the global community for workers to leave honest reviews of their previous and current employers, there is very little online to help jobseekers find businesses that align with them.

A new recruitment platform,, focuses on just that, giving jobseekers all the information they need to make an informed decision about whether an employer is the right fit for them. The platform allows jobseekers to search for jobs using filters that show the work employers are doing internally to promote diversity and inclusion, as well searching for jobs using the traditional search fields such as location, geography and keyword.

“Jobseekers are much more likely to find an employer that wishes to increase representation of their group or community by searching for the right type of employer in the first place,” says Ben Chalcraft, MD. “We list thousands of jobs, but place the employer’s diversity information right in the heart of the job description. For example, if an engineering employer wishes to recruit more women we push female friendly content as part of the job advert. We’re engaging with jobseekers though relevant content and marry the employer’s diversity strategy with their resourcing needs. It adds up to a cutting-edge diversity recruitment platform fit for the modern world”. has grown from a kitchen start-up to a platform with over 100 early adopting employers, including BBC, Sky, ITV, Viacom, Ofcom, Department for Education, Met Police, Bank of England, Barclays, HSBC, Morgan Stanley, Hs2, Network Rail, TfL, Heathrow Airport, and Atkins.

In a separate study on what attracting and retaining new hires, conducted by the Futurestep division of Korn Ferry, nearly one-fifth of respondents say new hires leave because they don’t like the company’s culture. “Especially for millennials, company culture is key to job satisfaction and companies must ensure they are correctly portraying the culture during the recruiting and on-boarding processes,” says Jonathan Brown, MD of talent acquisition solutions EMEA at Futurestep.

As millennials flood leadership ranks and become more influential in hiring practices and establishing company culture, these studies suggest that traditional diversity and inclusion models may see an overhaul.


Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for from 2016 to 2018.

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