Some 31% of the 2,953 accountants who participated in the survey had experienced discrimination in the workplace, including 43% of women and 25% of men.
Of those respondents on the receiving end of discrimination, almost half of women believed it was on gender grounds, compared to one in three men who said it had happened because of their age. Some 59% of men and women in the 56-65 age group had suffered.
Some 8% of those who had experienced discrimination said their race had been the cause, with men slightly more likely than women to suffer. Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or religion were other significant complaints.
The survey also highlights an alarming mismatch between companies’ policies and the reality of working life. Although 65% of respondents said their company had an equality and/or diversity policy in place, the large number of complainants suggest that many companies are simply paying lip service to the notion of workplace equality.
Makbool Javid, employment partner at law firm DLA, predicted a rash of complaints unless the profession tackled the issue as a matter of urgency.
His warning came days after law firm Tarlo Lyons made an out-of-court settlement to Sarah Collins, who claimed she was sacked from her £105,000 a year job two hours after revealing she was pregnant. Javid said: ‘We’re seeing a greater willingness to bring claims because there’s less stigma attached to the process and the financial compensation you could receive for any stigma is adequate.’
The results will also prompt concerns that discriminatory issues are persuading women to leave the profession. Half of female respondents said they were looking to move jobs in the next six to 12 months.
Equal Opportunities Commission chief executive Caroline Slocock said companies needed to conduct pay reviews, and make sure they have specific policies in place.
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