More than a third of all IT workers in Australia have faced some form of discrimination, with unfair treatment over age topping the list.
Global payroll and HR firm ADP conducted a survey of just under 2,000 Australians, finding that IT was among the sectors with the highest levels of age discrimination, along with education, health and finance.
“We have work to do with age discrimination in the workplace. While the issue certainly isn’t unique to Australia, I am sure many will be surprised at just how common an experience it is,” ADP Australia managing director Eddie Megas said.
“One in 10 workers say they’ve faced age discrimination in their current positon. Our data shows that the incidence of age discrimination is high, and that the processes and protocols to address it are lacking.”
This applies to young and older workers, with 11 per cent of those surveyed saying they have experienced this.
Just over 38 per cent of young people aged 18 to 24 said they have experienced age discrimination in the workplace, while 21 per cent of those over 55-years old also had.
Discrimination has been unfortunately common in the tech sector for several years.
Overall, nearly 40 per cent of those surveyed by ADP working in the IT and telecommunications sectors said they had felt discriminated against in their current role.
To make things worse, more than half of the workers surveyed said they were unaware of who to contact if they did experience discrimination, with just one-third saying they were comfortable making a complaint about it.
Nearly 15 per cent said they don’t think their company follows good human resources practices when it comes to preventing discrimination.
“Discrimination prevention and resolution is often the domain of HR departments,” Megas said.
“Businesses who do not have this dedicated function are likely to be the least prepared to effectively prevent and respond to discrimination in the workplace.”
As a “minimum” tech businesses need to educate themselves on anti-discrimination laws, Megas said.
“Not only is discrimination illegal, but employers have a duty of care to protect their teams form harassment or unfair treatment at work,” he said.
“Every workplace should have established procedures relating to discrimination and harassment, which all staff are bound by.
“A clear framework to live by and processes to report instances of discrimination is the best way to protect both your business and your workers.”
Other forms of discrimination reported in the survey included on the basis of gender, with 8 per cent of respondents saying they had experienced this, with 5 per cent of respondents experiencing discrimination based on their appearance or nationality.
Last year, a startup – PrimeL – was launched in an attempt to help reduce age discrimination in the workplace and assist older Australians in finding work. The company conducts a personal assessment of each potential candidate for a job, identifying gaps in their skills and sorting out a training program to get them ready to enter the workforce again.
In 2019, Google agreed to pay $US11 million as part of settling a class action age discrimination lawsuit brought on by more than 200 people who applied for jobs at the company and were over the age of 40.
These people did not receive the jobs and claimed they had been denied the engineering positions based on their age, with Google’s workforce mostly made up of people under the age of 40.
“Age discrimination is an issue that needs to be addressed in the tech industry,” one of the class action lawyers said last year.
The average age of a Facebook employee is 29 years old, while at Amazon this is 30, according to research company Payscale.