35% of candidates believe recruiters discriminate against pregnancy and parenthood when hiring

New research from recruitment tech Tribepad, shows candidates overwhelmingly believe that recruiters are biased in some way – although the proportion has decreased since 2022.

When Tribepad first did their Stop the Bias research in 2022, every individual surveyed said there was something about themselves that they believed would hold them back in the recruitment process. And now in their latest Stop the Bias report, 11% chose the option ‘none of the above.’ This suggests some progress, but that still leaves a huge 9 in 10 people (89%) who believe that they are likely to suffer prejudice when applying for a role.

Age is the biggest concern, while mental health and weight have moved into the top five, whilst ethnicity and gender have become less of a concern. Despite the fact that mental health and mental illness are becoming a more prevalent part of discourse both in and out of work, the number of candidates concerned that mental health could be used against them rose by a third, from 1 in 8 (13%) in 2022 to 1 in 5 (19%) in 2023, correlating with the growth of numbers suffering with mental health issues.


The 10 biggest biases (what people believe holds them back) according to applicants are:

  • Age (too old) – 57%
  • Personal appearance including hair, skin and clothes – 25%
  • Disability or learning needs – 23%
  • Mental health – 19%
  • Weight – 18%
  • Being a parent   – 18%
  • Being pregnant – 17%
  • Race including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, or caste – 16%
  • Accent – 15%
  • Gender or gender identity – 15%


However, candidates are more trusting in employers to do the right thing. It’s common for organisations to collect data on diversity characteristics to monitor their levels of inclusion in a business. But do candidates believe it’s being put to good use?

 The proportion of people who believe that diversity data is used by prospective employers in a way that benefits them has increased by nearly a third in relative terms. In 2022, only a quarter (24%) believed that this kind of data collection and reporting was beneficial to them as an applicant, but it’s risen to a third (33%) in 2023. This suggests that candidates are reassured by the growing narrative around companies meaning what they say when it comes to equity, diversity and inclusion.

Dean Sadler, CEO of Tribepad says: “These new findings paint a mixed picture. In some cases perceived bias is on the up – yet candidates do seem to be more trusting that employers are using diversity data for good. But it’s still not enough. We need a world where it’s not about where you’ve come from, what you look like, or your family situation, but the opportunities, skills and aptitude to land you a job. Biases can be so ingrained, and unconsciously so, making it difficult to change mindsets, but it can be done. It’s 2024 – the time really has come to stop the bias.”


Download the report here.