The Equality Act of 2010 was a landmark moment for employers.  It was one of the most significant pieces of legislation in our lifetime as it promised an end to discrimination on the grounds of sex, race or disability, but today we’re still talking about Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.  In fact, the conversation has never been more prominent with issues like Black Lives Matter forcing society as a whole to examine its biases.

Research from Tribepad looked at whether candidates feel like they are protected from discrimination when applying for their next role, and unfortunately, the answer appears to be ‘No’.

The Tribepad report takes a deep dive into the issue of bias, exploring the root of the problem as well as its impact on candidates, with the aim being twofold: – to highlight the flaws in the current system and to empower employers to bring about real change to benefit everyone.

While Equality, Diversity and Inclusion efforts have long focussed on eliminating bias on the basis of people’s race, gender or sexual orientation; today’s candidates are just as worried about being discriminated against because of their accents, their age and even their appearance.

In a perfect world, people would get hired based on their work experience, their attitude and the skills they bring to the table, however, Tribepad analysis shows that candidates have real concerns that biases, whether conscious or otherwise, might seriously impact their chances of getting their next role.

The findings reveal that candidates’ biggest concerns are being discriminated against due to age, personal appearance and disability.  Meanwhile issues such as mental health, accents and simply being a parent were also common.

The 10 biggest biases according to applicants were: –

  • Age (too old) – 64.4%
  • Personal appearance – 19.6%
  • Disability or learning needs – 17.6%
  • Gender or gender identity – 17.4%
  • Race or ethnicity – 15.5%
  • Weight – 14.6%
  • Age (too young) – 13.5%
  • Accent – 13.3%
  • Mental Health – 12.6%
  • Being a parent – 12.6%.

However, while some of these fears of bias are not protected characteristics as defined by the Equality Act, the focus from an employer perspective in addressing biases was as follows: –

  • Ethnicity – 92%
  • Gender – 87%
  • Disability – 72%
  • Part-time Working/Flexible Working – 62%
  • Socio-Economic Background – 51%
  • Gender Identity – 51%
  • Age – 41%
  • Sexual Orientation – 36%
  • Religion/Belief – 23%, and
  • Other – 5%.

It should be pointed out, that while a ‘fear’ of bias itself has no bearing on whether the bias truly exists or not, the clear disparity between the focus of employers and the views of candidates does indeed suggest that organisations still have a lot to do to make recruitment more of a level playing field for all.

The full report looking at perceived bias can be accessed here.