Discrimination commonplace in optics

One in four UK optometrists has experienced or witnessed discrimination in the past two years, mostly targeting race (60%), followed by religion, sexism and ageism, a new survey found.  


The equality, diversity and inclusion survey commissioned by the Association of Optometrists (AOP) included 1,105 of its members. Of those who had experienced discrimination, 80% said it was perpetrated by patients; 37% said they had suffered abuse from colleagues, and 36% attributed the behaviour to managers.    


More than half (58%) of the optometrists who said they had been discriminated against didn’t report the incident, with almost half saying (44%) said they felt unable to report discrimination because they were unsupported by management or had previously experienced negative consequences of reporting discrimination; 18% said they felt unsafe doing so. More than a quarter (28%) considered leaving the profession, or had left their job, because of discrimination.  


The stark reality of this survey is that, for many eyecare professionals across the UK, discrimination is commonplace in daily practice, said AOP chief executive Adam Sampson. “This needs to be tackled head on. The data and personal accounts our members have shared in the survey are deeply troubling, revealing abhorrent examples of racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination.”   


The AOP has launched the 100% Respect campaign, working with employers across the sector to build on and improve equality and inclusion at work. For more, see www.aop.org.uk/our-voice/campaigns/100-respect/make-your-pledge 


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