Gender Discrimination & the workplace: How common is it?

Woman working in office, gender discrimination, businesswoman

Gender discrimination in the workplace still remains a real and rife issue, with many women experiencing sexual harassment, job insecurity and lower pay compared with their male colleagues. 

Discrimination is described as a social phenomenon in which factors such as gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and race are used to make distinctions towards people. Women face gender discrimination in everyday life and unfortunately, in the workplace. Gender discrimination has various forms such as the gender pay gap, lack of career progression for women, gender stereotyping for executive roles, and sexual harassment. Moreover, it often leads towards mental health problems in women affecting them long term such as PTSD. We explore what discrimination looks like and what steps can be taken to prohibit such behaviour.

Some examples of gender discrimination include:

  • not being hired or being given a lower-paying position because of your gender or sexual orientation (for example, when an employer refuses to hire women, or only hires women for certain jobs).
  • being held to different or higher standards, or being evaluated more harshly, because of your gender identity, or because you don’t act or present yourself in a way that conforms to traditional ideas of femininity. This often results in unnecessary pressure and scrutiny being placed on the individual based on their gender.
  • being paid less than a person of a different gender who is similarly or less qualified than you, or who has similar job duties than you.
  • being denied a promotion, pay raise, or training opportunity that is given to people of another gender identity or sexual orientation who are equally or less qualified or as you.
  • being insulted, called derogatory names or slurs because of your gender, or hearing hostile remarks about people of a certain gender identity because of power misuse in the workplace.
  • being rejected for a job, forced out on leave, or given fewer assignments because you’re pregnant. All the above are clear and current problems arising in the workplace as a result of discrimination. These types of misconduct are covered by the Equality Act 2010 and the Civil Rights Act 1964.

Statistics and what they mean:

Current research released by the Young Women’s Trust shows that over 62% of young women say that their future prospects have got worse over the last six months due to gender discrimination in the workplace. Moreover, the Office for National Statistics found that the median hourly pay for full-time employees was 8.3% less for women than for men in 2022, while the median hourly pay for part-time employees was 2.8% higher for women than for men. These are incredible figures highlighting a true imbalance not just a small disparity.

What can be done to stop gender discrimination?

Over the years the laws have been improved and we have also witnessed many companies actively taking steps to end this behaviour & the reporting rules on salaries are being extended to flag the issues and shine a spotlight on those creating these gaps. However, we know we have a ways to go and how we do this needs to radically change.

  1. Men need to feel comfortable asking for parental leave and part-time/flexible working if they are to share parenting & allow women to return to work
  2. Child care needs to be accessible and affordable for everyone
  3. Policies and processes will be required to be changed by law, but employers need to not only do this but train their management and HR and encourage a culture to embrace the policies in place
  4. Encouraging staff to talk openly and not be afraid to discuss health and homelife issues is essential as part of this growing wellbeing and welfare culture needed in the workplace
  5. Reporting pay gaps and salaries on recruitment materials we hope will increase transparency which will assist us to reduce the gaps, but this will only happen if everyone is on the same page as salaries can be adapted by bonuses and other benefits which may be hidden, promotions, board diversity it is all needed and we need to move quicker in how we process diversity
  6. However, this must be done right – no woman wants to be promoted only because it fits the diversity model – they want training, genuine career progression, challenges and respect the same as anyone so the entire outlook must be genuine too

We strongly encourage employers to check in on staff by having regular one-to-one meetings, provide full training for members of HR so they can be fully prepared in the event such discrimination happens and carry out a risk assessment on the business. The faster they react; the stronger they react and the better change we have.

What to do if you feel you have been discriminated against because of your gender:

  1. Create a log of all incidents that have occurred being as detailed and specific as possible.
  2. In the first instance speak to your line manager and ask for support and advice. If that doesn’t work or they are the one causing the issues to speak to HR or a trusted manager.
  3. If no affirmative action is taken you need to consider raising a formal written grievance with your company and speak to your line manager, HR and all relevant parties. They have then a duty to investigate, interview parties and provide you with an outcome and hopefully positive steps to resolve the matter
  4. In the event that nothing is resolved, it is recommended that you seek legal advice. As it maybe you need to escalate the matter or even consider constructive dismissal

Here at A City Law Firm, we specialise in all types of discrimination claims and we are dedicated to achieving the best result and outcome for your case. Whether that be a settlement agreement or going to a tribunal. We know raising a grievance isn’t the first option you may wish to consider, we know leaving your career could be damaging and we know tribunal claims are costly. We would work with you to support whatever decision and approach you wish to take, but often having someone on your side gives you the confidence to stand up and shout out.

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