Over a third (37%) of people feel they cannot be their authentic self at work, new research finds

  • More than a third (37%) of people have felt the need to hide aspects of who they are at work for fear of judgement by others
  • The main groups of people who feel afraid to be their authentic selves are those who identify as LGBTQ+ (65%) and those living with a disability (62%)
  • Over half (51%) of professionals say there has been occasions where they felt their chances of being selected for a new job have been limited due to certain characteristics such as age or gender

The workplace remains a space where not everyone feels able to be their true selves through fear of being judged by other people, according to recent research conducted by Hays

New research, released as part of Hays’ annual Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Report found that more than a third (37%) of respondents say they have felt the need to hide aspects of who they are in the workplace for fear of judgement by others. 

The report, based on a survey of over 5,300 professionals and employers, found that certain groups of people feel they cannot be their authentic selves at work more than others, including those who identify as LGBTQ+ (65%), those living with a disability (62%) and those with caring responsibilities (46%). 

 

The impact on job opportunities 

On top of this, over half (51%) of professionals say there has been occasions where they felt their chances of being selected for a new job have been limited because of their background or another identifying factor including age, dependants, disability, ethnicity or nationality, gender or gender identity, religion or belief, sexual orientation or socio-economic background. 

The top reported factors are age (55%), followed by ethnicity (36%) and gender (26%). The research found that 34% of women say they feel their chances of being selected for a job have been limited due to their gender, in comparison to 12% of men. As well as this, majority (79%) of respondents from a global ethnic majority background say they believe their chances have been limited due to their ethnicity compared to only 16% of white respondents.

The number of people who felt their chances of being selected for a job were limited by their background or another identifying factor has notably increased since last year rising from 39% to just over half (51%). 

When it comes to career progression, the research points out similar inequalities. Almost half of professionals (48%) say there have been occasions where they felt their chances of career progression at their current organisation have been limited because of their background or an identifying factor. 

 

Barriers to career progression affecting employee wellbeing 

Additionally, the barriers to progression that people are encountering at work are having a knock-on effect to the wellbeing of employees. The vast majority (88%) of respondents who have encountered limitations to their career progression due to their background or an identifying factor said this experience made them feel excluded, with over a quarter (29%) saying it made them feel extremely excluded. A further 87% said it made them feel powerless, whilst 84% felt angry – nearly a quarter extremely so (24%). 

Dan Robertson, Global Head of DE&I Advisory Services at Hays, comments: “Feeling authentic is unique to every person, however despite a growing understanding of the importance of being authentic in every aspect of our lives – it’s clear that the workplace remains a space where not everyone feels able to be their true selves, especially for certain members of our communities.

If staff don’t feel they can be their true selves it’s going to have a detrimental impact on their wellbeing, and ultimately retention and company culture. 

Additionally, there’s still clear inequalities that remain when it comes to accessing work and career progression. Employers need to ensure that they are continuing to make steps to remove bias from hiring, development opportunities and promotion so professionals from all backgrounds can feel they have equal opportunity. Employers should also focus their attention on building cultures that promote a sense of belonging and psychological safety for all.”

About the research: The findings are based on a survey carried out between 17th July–7th August 2023, with responses from over 5,350 employers and employees across the UK from a range of key demographics, industries and sectors. 

 

Contact

Chloe May
PR Executive
chloe.may@hays.com

 

About Hays

Hays plc (the "Group") is the world’s leading specialist in workforce solutions and recruitment, such as RPO and MSP. The Group is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide, being the market leader in the UK, Germany and Australia and one of the market leaders in Continental Europe, Latin America and Asia. The Group operates across the private and public sectors, dealing in permanent positions, contract roles and temporary assignments. As at 31 December 2022, the Group employed over 13,000 staff operating from 255 offices in 33 countries. For the year ended 30 June 2022:

  • the Group reported net fees of £1,189.4 million and operating profit of £210.1 million;
  • the Group placed around 83,750 candidates into permanent jobs and around 250,000 people into temporary roles;
  • 16% of Group net fees were generated in Australia & New Zealand, 26% in Germany, 22% in United Kingdom & Ireland and 36% in Rest of World (RoW);
  • the temporary placement business represented 55% of net fees and the permanent placement business represented 45% of net fees;
  • Technology is the Group’s largest division, with 26% of net fees, while Accountancy & Finance (14%) and Construction & Property (11%), are the next largest
  • Hays operates in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, UAE, the UK and the USA
     
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