Bullying and racism prevail in workplaces – study

Disparaging remarks, verbal abuse, exclusion from work gatherings all problematic

38% of workers in Ireland believe bullying in the workplace is an issue, a new survey by Matrix Recruitment has found. The 2023 Workplace Equality Survey found that almost three in four workers have witnessed or been the victim of bullying at work. Of those, 39% said they were bullied directly.

Now in its sixth year, the survey of more than 1,400 adults covers a wide range of workplace issues including workplace bullying, discrimination and racism.

Bullying

In terms of the types of bullying or harassment that was reported, almost half (45%) said it involved openly harsh criticism in front of work colleagues and a third said it involved being blamed for something without justification.

Other forms identified by respondents were: Disparaging remarks made about appearance, race, sexual orientation, and/or gender (29%); Extra work piled on to create stress (27%); Exclusion from work gatherings (25%); Verbal abuse including profane, threatening or disrespectful language (23%).

Of those who witnessed or were the victim of bullying, more than half (56%) said that the bullying took place in a physical workplace setting, while one in five experienced bullying in a virtual work setting.

Asked if they had ever report discrimination, bullying or harassment at work, over half (59%) of respondents said they had. Of those, a third of respondents (32%) felt that the issue was not dealt with promptly, seriously, and discreetly enough by their workplace.

Racism

The Matrix Recruitment 2023 Workplace Equality Survey also found that almost two-thirds of employees in Ireland (63%) believe racism is a problem in the workforce here.

On top of this, nearly half of workers in Ireland (46%) perceive that ethnic minorities have fewer promotional opportunities than their colleagues.

The majority of respondents (80%) said their employer advocates for diversity, equality and inclusion in their workplace and most respondents (89%) believe that employers have a responsibility to their staff to offer training on issues relating to equality and discrimination. However, there is a slight disparity between intention and execution, with 63% of Irish workers reporting to have had training in this area.