Survey reveals discrimination widespread

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Survey reveals discrimination widespread

An international survey has revealed almost half of all working Australians believe they have experienced discrimination when applying for a job in the last five years, with older workers now facing the greatest prejudice.

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An international survey has revealed almost half of all working Australians believe they have experienced discrimination when applying for a job in the last five years, with older workers now facing the greatest prejudice.

The Kelly Global Workforce survey, which sought the views of approximately 70,000 people in 28 countries including almost 2,000 in Australia, found the major sources of discrimination identified by respondents were age (25%), gender and racial discrimination (9%), and disability (3%).

The highest level of discrimination was in NSW where 52% reported discrimination when applying for a job, followed by Queensland (46%), Victoria (45%), South Australia (42%), and Western Australia (37%).

Men had the highest level of overall discrimination with 50% facing prejudice when applying for a job compared with 43% of females.

Prevalent industries

The survey found that some industries experienced higher levels of discrimination including IT, engineering and retail.

Only a small fraction of those who felt discriminated against actually took the matter further and most were unhappy with the outcome.

Almost 40% of those surveyed said they also experienced discrimination in their day-to-day working life and that people without university qualifications reported higher rates of discrimination.

International standards

However, levels of discrimination in Australia are not adverse by global standards, with Australia ranking 16th on the list of 28 countries.

Sweden, Thailand and Singapore were the countries that recorded the highest rates of discrimination in the worldwide study.

Age 'new epidemic'

Kelly Services' Australian Country Manager, James Bowmer, said the figures highlight how discrimination is changing over time and age is the new epidemic.

'Ageism has overtaken ethnicity and sexism in many areas as the greatest source of discrimination in employment,' he said. 'At a time when we face an ageing population, skills shortages, and are being encouraged to stay working for longer, many organisations are putting obstacles in the way of hiring older Australians.'

Bowmer said it is not only 'devastating' for individuals, but it also means many organisations are shutting off an important source of talent and diversity.

'Organisations that don't address these issues directly can do themselves considerable damage and can suffer costs both direct and indirect.

'They may suffer high staff turnover, absenteeism, poor morale, low productivity, poor reputation, and also the possibility of civil claims and penalties arising from breach of anti-discrimination laws,' Bowmer said.

He also warned employers to ensure that employees fully understand their rights, and that managers faced with workplace discrimination take immediate steps to remedy the situation.

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