Modern Australian

Subtle Signs - 5 Ways to Spot Discrimination in the Workplace

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Workplace discrimination involves not being treated fairly or equally due to race, religion, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, mental or physical disability, or gender identity.   

It doesn’t matter whether discrimination is direct, indirect, a form of harassment, or the product of outdated company policies – it’s not okay. If you suspect that discrimination is happening in your workplace, here are some of the most common signs that you might be right: 

A Lack of Diversity

There are so many benefits associated with inclusive employment, such as better average profits and higher productivity. Given the robustness of the research in this area, it’s hard to believe workplaces wouldn’t try to be diverse. However, it happens. 

Discrimination might be alive and well in your workplace if you notice that everyone is the same gender, age, nationality, race, and/or sexual orientation. Fortunately, many workplaces are changing their ways, and anti-harassment laws are in place to protect workers who believe they may be discriminated against. 

Different Benefits for Men and Women

It’s still surprisingly common for some workplaces to offer different benefits based on an employee’s gender. For example, if an employer gave more benefits or corporate gifts to employees who were the heads of their household and fewer to those who weren’t, this would be a form of discrimination. It would also be discrimination if a company’s retirement plan had different retirement ages and benefits for men and women. 

Workplace Policies Affecting Your Age Group

It’s not always easy to spot age-related discrimination in the workplace as the signs are often more subtle. Your employer might assume that older employees are slower and more likely to make mistakes, or they might try and remove more senior employees from their roles and replace them with younger employees. You might even notice that layoffs primarily affect those in the older age brackets. 

If you have been asked your age on a job application or even during the hiring process, this too is a form of workplace discrimination

Unequal Pay

Two people doing the same job with the same experience and qualifications should, in theory, receive the same salary. However, that’s not always the case. 

Unequal pay can be a form of gender discrimination, and it seems that even in today’s modern age, this form of discrimination is alive and well. In 2020, women in the US earned just 84% of what men did. Women between the ages of 25 to 34 also made seven cents less in the dollar than their male counterparts. 

As most employees do not discuss their salary with colleagues, it’s likely that many business owners are getting away with paying women less than men in a blatant case of gender discrimination. 

Strange Interview Questions

Surprisingly, you don’t even need to start working for a company to experience discrimination. It can begin during the early interviewing stages. 

It’s a form of discrimination to ask about an employee’s disabilities instead of simply asking them if they can perform specific work-related tasks. It’s also a form of discrimination to ask someone’s age, but a potential employer can ask if you’re over the legal working age. 

Inquiring about a woman’s plans for starting a family is also a form of discrimination that may still happen more than you might think. 

The good news is, more workplaces than ever before are using inclusivity to benefit from the wide range of skill sets and personalities such practices bring to an organization. However, that doesn’t mean discrimination doesn’t exist today. The five signs above are proof that even in 2021, we’ve still got work to do. 


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