The odds are that if even you haven’t personally suffered workplace discrimination or abuse, you know someone who has. In fact, a recent study suggests workplace discrimination has become an even bigger concern among Generation Z workers than with older generations.
According to a recent survey, 70% of workers say they have experienced some form of discrimination or abuse at work. Among Gen Z workers, that number rises to 86%. Gen Z workers were also the most inclined to describe their workplaces as “boring,” “depressing” or “toxic.”
Discrimination is more than a single issue
The nationwide survey, conducted by Ten Spot, explored the evolution of workplace cultures. Accordingly, it covered more than just workplace discrimination. Respondents addressed everything from workplace productivity to the ways their companies engage with social concerns.
While the majority of respondents said they had experienced some form of discrimination or abuse, most also said they felt safe in their current work environment:
- 76% claimed they felt psychologically and emotionally safe in their current work environment
- 87% said they had at least one co-worker they felt cared about them personally
This discrepancy highlights how complicated workplace discrimination can be. Some of the workers may have left the jobs where they suffered abuse, but the numbers suggest many workers have suffered abuse in environments where they have otherwise felt safe.
The survey provides a couple key pieces of information that help explain this problem. The first is that roughly half the people who responded said they had not participated in diversity training. Many had not even received an offer to participate. The second issue is that workplace discrimination can take many forms. The survey listed the five most common:
- Wage inequality
Notably, these behaviors can harm workers in numerous ways. They can affect interviews, the hiring process, daily work, performance reviews and promotions. They may be illegal when they target workers because they belong to one or more protected classes.
The survey isn’t all bad news
At first glance, the survey may appear truly depressing. Decades after the Civil Rights movement and the passage of federal laws meant to protect workers’ rights, the survey suggests employers continue to break those laws. However, there’s more to the survey than the fact that discrimination remains widespread.
The survey also reveals Generation Z’s increased attention to the problem. As Forbes notes, Gen Z workers tend to pay more attention to such social issues, so they may see and report more. As some experts note, this may force changes in the workplace, especially as Gen Z workers move into leadership positions. Their push for transparency may help cut down the sort of discrimination that often hides behind false pretenses, which would be a good thing.