Equality at work: The continuing challenge - Global Report under the follow-up to the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work

The global economic and financial crisis, which has predictably turned into a major employment crisis, forms the background to the third Global Report on discrimination. The aim of the Report is to provide a dynamic picture of trends over the last four years and present some findings, conclusions and recommendations for future action by the ILO and its constituents. This Report contains both good and bad news about recent worldwide trends regarding discrimination in employment and occupation. On the positive side, there is more legislation, there are more institutional initiatives, and, in general, a growing awareness of the need to overcome discrimination at work. However, capacity does not keep pace with the political will, and a prolonged economic downturn exposes structural weaknesses and even aggravates structural discrimination. Furthermore, the agenda of discrimination at work is continuously diversifying, and new challenges arise where old ones remain at best only partially answered.

This Report shows that discrimination continues to
be persistent and multifaceted. A major area of concern
is access to jobs. The proportion of workers who
are vulnerable to poverty is on the increase again,
reversing the positive trends noted over the last few
years. Discrimination has also become more varied,
and discrimination on multiple grounds is becoming
the rule rather than the exception. Such trends have
been witnessed by equality bodies, which have received
an increased number of complaints of workplace
In times of crisis, inequality, insecurity and the
danger of exclusion are fed by direct or indirect
discrimination. Attitudes are influenced, and it becomes
more difficult to strengthen policies and legislation
against discrimination. Discrimination occurs
as a result of actions by employers, national legislation
and practice, social and cultural factors, and
different perceptions of the causes of economic and
social troubles. And yet, the link between non-discrimination
and social stability is particularly important
at a time of economic adversity.
Different economies and sectors of the economy
have been affected in different ways. Workers in
more stable employment relationships are naturally
less affected by the crisis than those in temporary or
precarious employment. The risk is especially acute
for the low-skilled, older and migrant workers, as well as those workers – including university graduates
– who are looking for their first job.