UK workplaces getting ruder

Feb 11 2008 by Derek Torres Print This Article

Would it surprise you if I told you that discriminatory slurs in the UK have virtually doubled in the past five years? Would it surprise you even more to know that the only type of slur that hadn't doubled is sexual or discriminatory comments towards minorities? (These comments "only" rose from 69% to 74%!).

If the results from href="">a recent study performed by the Peninsula law firm are accurate, then we're seeing some pretty disturbing trends across Britain!

Having worked in a number of countries, I've always noticed that some locations seemed to be more "loose lipped" than others when it came to office banter. Coming from an IT background, I'm more than used to the "boys club" that high-tech shops can be, but to be frank, I've rarely if ever experienced inappropriate commentary to the level shown in these results. Let's do a quick now and then shall we?

  • Racist commentary towards co-workers: 84% have witnessed such offences versus 46% in 2003.
  • Ethnic slurs: 28% in 2008 versus 16% in 2003.
  • Sexual orientation commentary: 18% in 2008 versus 11% in 2003.
  • Jokes about nationality: 23% in 2008 versus 12% in 2003.

As the managing director at Peninsula, Peter Done, points out, there is a comfort zone whereby employees feel free to make such inappropriate commentary. It's as if the workplace is confused with home and co-workers are taken for friends.

If that's truly the case, it says quite a bit about the appearances of our so-called tolerant society. For the sake of civility, and the well-being of all employees and our differences, such commentary needs to come to a halt.