The three grounds that were most often perceived to be targets of discrimination are “ethnic origin” (56%), “disability” (46%) and “sexual orientation” (46%). The Roma make up a special group, as three out of four Europeans view the Roma as a group at risk of discrimination.
The relatively new issue of “gender identity” on the European agenda has caught public attention, as 45% of Europeans believe that discrimination on this ground is widespread. Interestingly, discrimination on the grounds of gender is not perceived to be as widely spread as the other grounds, as the rate has dropped compared to the survey in 2009, now halting at 31%.
Personal experience of discrimination (17%) remains in 2012 largely at the levels measured in 2009 (16%). However, Europeans who say they belong to a minority are more likely than Europeans on average to report that they have personally experienced discrimination.
The economic crisis is contributing to more discrimination in the labour market, especially for older persons, as two-thirds (67%) of Europeans believe that the crisis is causing more discrimination against “older” workers (aged over 55). Other grounds of discrimination that are perceived to be negatively affected are disability (53%) and ethnic origin (52%). Europeans are very supportive of measures to foster diversity in the workplace, as 79% of Europeans believe that training employees and employers on diversity is needed. However, they are much more critical towards what is actually being done to promote diversity in the workplace.
A point of concern is that most Europeans (34%) prefer to report their case to the police, should they become a victim of discrimination or harassment. Only 16% of the people would prefer to report their case to Equality bodies (though up from 13% in 2009), closely followed by lawyers (14%) and tribunals and trade unions (10%). The low numbers point to the conclusions that were made at the Equinet communication training on Under-reporting that took place in September in Malta – great communication efforts are needed to make the public aware of the Equality bodies and to gain trust for the institutions.
(Under)reporting is also highly dependent on building the general culture of rights in society. When it comes to increasing people’s awareness of their rights then only slight improvement has been recorded since 2009. 37% of Europeans say they would know their rights should they fall victim to discrimination, whereas the awareness of rights is not significantly higher among Europeans belonging to a minority or among people who have actually experienced discrimination.