Almost a quarter of people in the UK feel that they have been victims of discrimination or harassment at work, with ageism proving to be by far the most prevalent complaint.
More than a third of those who felt they had been discriminated against – some 37 per cent – believed that it was on account of their age, while a similar number said that the organisation they worked for harboured discriminatory practices.
One in seven people across all age groups believed that they had been discriminated against because of their age, representing nearly 4 million workers. But the figure for people aged over 55 rose to more than one in five, further proof that employment prospects decline rapidly as people get into their mid 40s.
Only a third of workers over 55 believed that their pay and benefits is fair were compared to half of those under 25.
Overall, only four out of ten of the 1,800 people questioned by MORI for the Guardian newspaper and recruitment firm TMP believed that employers were succeeding in harnessing the potential of the UK's diverse population
The least positive minority group in the survey were the disabled, a third of whom felt that their managers ignored equal opportunities. The most satisfied and optimistic group in the survey were gay respondents.
The survey found that women generally feel more satisfied with their working lives than men. Half (51 per cent) of women are optimistic about their workplace, five per cent more than their male counterparts, while more men than women think that discrimination exists in the workplace.
One in five black workers said they had been discriminated against, above the 16 per cent average for all ethnic minority respondents. And Black workers were twice as likely as white workers to feel that discrimination exists in their workplace.
Andre McGarrigle, the Guardian's head of research, said that workplace diversity is well worth striving for. "A motivated workforce is of primary importance for any organisation in today's competitive landscape," he said