Research highlights impact of discrimination in promotion decisions


A fifth of UK employees say they have felt discriminated against in promotion decisions, according to research by Lee Hecht Harrison | Penna.

According to the research, the most common factor in this perceived inequality is age (39%) followed by gender (26%) and employment status (22%).

It also found that, while employers agreed ageism is the most apparent form of discrimination at their organisation (cited by 12% of those who responded), HR managers are most committed to tackling sexism.

The research also showed almost a third (29%) of employees believe the promotion process at their company is unfair. This is in sharp contrast to HR professionals, nearly all (94%) of whom believe the promotion process at their company is handled fairly.

Respondents who felt the promotion process at their company is unjust attributed it to a lack of guidance on how to climb up the ranks. Women are much more likely to feel they have not been giving sufficient career guidance with four in ten saying this is an issue compared to a quarter of men.

Meanwhile, younger employees – those aged between 25 and 34 - feel most hard done by when it comes to promotion decisions. Almost a third of these (28%) said they felt this was the case, compared to the 20% average for all age groups. In addition to being more likely to feel wronged, younger workers are also more likely to take proactive action, with a quarter having left a job because they have been passed over for promotion, while a similar proportion have left a job because a company has lacked diversity.

To tackle diversity, seven in ten organisations integrate quotas into the promotion process. However, 40% of employees believe more still needs to be done to tackle lack of diversity, with a quarter supporting the practice of positive discrimination.

Nicola Sullivan, senior director at Lee Hecht Harrison |Penna, said: “With our research showing nearly all (91%) of HR professionals believe their promotion processes are inclusive, there is a clear disconnect between the positive action HR professionals believe they are taking and how this is perceived by employees. For companies looking to bridge this gap, there is no ‘one size fits all’ policy. To create a promotion process seen as fairer and more inclusive by its employees, HR professionals and senior management need to develop a unique solution tailored to the nature of both the organisation and staff.

“In some cases this could mean redesigning the process to improve assessment processes, while in others it would be retraining people managers to have effective career conversations. However, in almost all cases helping employees to understand their career options, clarify pathways and enabling them to understand what they need to do to achieve their ambitions is essential.”

According to the findings, promoting inclusivity within the workforce is a critical issue with the majority of employees (74%) stating they would consider leaving a company if it appeared to lack diversity.

Two thirds (65%) of HR managers believe promoting diversity leads to a varied workforce with a range of skills and outlooks, while half (51%) do so because it is expected within today’s society. A further half (50%) are committed to promoting diversity because it prevents claims of discrimination.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

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