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Demographic diversity, perceived workplace discrimination and workers' well-being: context matters

Maude Boulet (Direction de la recherche et de l'enseignement, École nationale d'administration publique, Montréal, Canada)
Marie Lachapelle (Department of Management, Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales, Montreal, Canada)
Sebastien Keiff (Direction de la recherche et de l'enseignement, École nationale d'administration publique, Montréal, Canada)

Evidence-based HRM

ISSN: 2049-3983

Article publication date: 10 May 2022

Issue publication date: 27 February 2023




The main objective of this article is to contribute to the advancement of scientific knowledge on the determinants of perceived workplace discrimination and its consequences on workers' well-being in Canada.


The authors used a representative sample of 7,706 workers aged 18 to 65 based on data from the 2016 General Social Survey of Canadians at Work and Home to conduct logistic regression models.


Women and visible minorities are at greater risk of perceiving that they have experienced workplace discrimination, but immigrants' perceived workplace discrimination risk is no different from that of non-immigrants. This risk is higher in public administration than in other industries and varies between provinces. Perceived workplace discrimination increases stress and is associated with a lower level of self-reported mental health.

Practical implications

Since perceived discrimination has a detrimental effect on workers' well-being, organizations should pay special attention to their employees’ perceptions. Relying only on official complaints of discrimination can lead organizations to underestimate this issue because many employees are not inclined to file an official complaint, even if they believe they have been discriminated against.


The authors findings are original because they suggest that visible socio-demographic characteristics (gender and visible minority) affect perceived workplace discrimination, which is not the case for invisible socio-demographic characteristics (immigrant). They point out that the province of residence is an element of the context to be considered and they indicate that workers in the public sector are more likely to perceive discrimination than those in other industries. These empirical contributions highlight that, despite anti-discrimination laws and government efforts to promote equity, diversity and inclusion, perceived workplace discrimination persists in Canada, particularly among women and visible minorities and it has tangible impacts on the workers' well-being.



The authors would like to thank the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et culture for its funding granted for the project Towards an inclusive HRM model with high well-being in private and public organizations in Quebec (2020-NP-266495).


Boulet, M., Lachapelle, M. and Keiff, S. (2023), "Demographic diversity, perceived workplace discrimination and workers' well-being: context matters", Evidence-based HRM, Vol. 11 No. 1, pp. 35-51.



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