Diversity: the experience of discrimination on multiple grounds

Funded by: ACAS (Research Partnership)


January 2011 to April 2011

PSI researchers:

Background, summary and aims

Background, Scope and Aims

The research aims to support more effective diversity management through greater understanding of the experience of discrimination on multiple grounds. Multiple discrimination acknowledges intersectionality; how social groups are not rigidly demarcated by race, age, disability, gender, class or other status. These characteristics are not mutually exclusive; instead, people have multiple identities that may help shape their everyday interactions within and beyond the workplace.

The research will engage with policy, theory and practice in relation to multiple discrimination, exploring the following questions:

  • What are the forms of multiple discrimination, both overt and subtle, involving two or more protected characteristics?
  • How is multiple discrimination experienced and addressed at the workplace and within the dispute resolution system?
  • What is the role of non-union advice and support?

Project Design

Central to the proposed methodology is a focus on the perceptions of people who have made claims of workplace discrimination to an Employment Tribunal . Using a grounded theory approach, semi-structured interviews will be undertaken with claimants who made claims referring to more than one equality strand. The sample will aim to capture claimant accounts across a variety of sectors and occupational groups in London and the South East. The research will also seek the participation of non-union sources of advice and support, involving advice workers.

Importance of Research

The research will contribute to wider employment relations evidence by increasing understanding of workplace experiences of discrimination on multiple grounds and how they are dealt with, from the ‘victim’s’ perspective. As stakeholders engage with the policy and practice implications of the Equality Act, the research outputs will provide a timely source of information and feed into debates around the effective promotion of workplace equality.

The research will provide real-world examples of multiple discrimination that can be drawn on in Acas guidance and codes of practice. This will support the process of strengthening worker and employer understanding of their rights and obligations. It will also provide a learning tool for Acas conciliators.