A recent survey conducted by an online compliance training company, Skillcast, revealed statistics regarding bias in the workplace among UK residents.

The survey, which included 2,000 UK residents currently or previously in employment, found that nearly a third (30 per cent) reported experiencing or witnessing bias during their careers.

The study highlighted significant variances in bias prevalence across different cities. Newcastle emerged as the city with the highest rate of bias experiences or observations, with 37 per cent of respondents indicating such occurrences. Sheffield, however, ranked lowest, with only 21 per cent reporting bias incidents.

Furthermore, the research delved into bias prevalence across various sectors. Results indicated that individuals in the finance sector were most likely to experience or witness bias, closely followed by those in engineering and manufacturing, as well as the charity sector.

Gender bias emerged as the most prevalent form of bias across all sectors, followed by ageism and racial bias.

The survey also examined the seniority levels of individuals perpetrating bias. Shockingly, around 39 per cent of respondents identified senior management as the primary source of biassed behaviour, followed by middle-level employees and lower-level executives.

In addition to statistical analysis, the survey gathered qualitative data on specific instances of bias experienced or witnessed by respondents. Instances ranged from class-based bias and appearance-based discrimination to racial and gender bias.

Notably, some responses highlighted positive steps taken by organisations to promote equality, such as targeted promotions and accommodation of religious practices.

Vivek Dodd, CEO of Skillcast, said, "These findings underscore the persistent challenges of bias in the workplace. It is imperative for organisations to foster inclusive environments where individuals are valued based on merit, rather than stereotypes or prejudices.

“Making unconscious bias training mandatory in the workplace will help businesses take a step further towards improving the workplace culture for every employee.

“Businesses across the UK should also make sure that employees feel comfortable raising their experiences. Forty-five per cent of individual respondents don't blow the whistle for fear of a bad reputation, and by experiencing bias already, this fear can be greater. Train your employees to understand when, how and to whom they can report misconduct and how they will be protected.”

The survey also received personal experiences from respondents.

One respondent claimed that their company only allowed men to drive company cars.

Another recalled, “I was told I couldn't return to my previous role when I came back from maternity leave.”

A female, aged 45-54 spoke of her experience: “I worked in a laboratory and was pregnant. Due to the nature of the work, I was not allowed to work with the chemicals in the laboratory environment. I told my boss I was pregnant, and he told me I had let him and the company down. I was made to go and sit outside in my car until they found me another role within the company. I was not allowed to speak to any of the staff I had worked with in my new role and was not given a desk. I had to carry my work around in a cardboard box and find spare desks or tables in the corridor to work from. I was also no longer allowed to use the canteen and had to sit in my car or outside at lunchtime.”

Other responses spoke of how women were seen as less capable in the workplace, with insults around being less ‘reliable’, ‘weak’ and ‘too menopausal’. Some even spoke about being ‘overlooked’ for promotions due to being a woman.

Racial bias took many forms. One respondent recalled staff ‘refusing to use non-white workers' names’. Another recalled the poor treatment of a staff member for ‘wearing a headscarf’ - whilst a later response claimed a staff member of Asian descent was ‘purposely cropped out from a group photo’, which ‘hurt the employee’s feelings’.

Where class-based bias was raised, some responses mentioned that their ‘accents’ were ‘mocked’ by fellow employees. One respondent even talked of ‘being spoken down to because of [their] working-class accent’. Another spoke of being told they weren’t ‘upmarket enough’ for a job, whilst a later response recalled being ‘laughed at’ because of their ‘parent’s background’.