Your skin color and what you believe in can be decisive for how you feel in your workplace

In an ongoing government assignment, the authority compiles knowledge about the vulnerability of certain groups to work-related stress and ill health. In order to develop preventive work, we need to understand how ethnicity, skin color, religion and beliefs affect work-related stress and illness.

Researchers Martin Wolgast and Sima Nurali Wolgast at the Department of Psychology at Lund University are working on behalf of the authority with the knowledge compilation. Martin and Sima have many years of experience in research in discrimination and human rights.

Discrimination-free society according to Agenda 2030

One of the goals in this project is to understand how stress linked to ethnicity and religion affects health. The compiled knowledge will be disseminated to support employers, safety representatives and other elected representatives in the work with the systematic work environment work.

Focus groups

During August, the working group sought participants for four focus groups with different representation and experiences. The participants come from employer’s organizations, trade unions, civil society organizations and businesses that work with preventive measures. The conversations in the focus groups take place during August and September.

An initial literature search

In the initial phase of the project, a comprehensive survey of existing research on topics such as skin color and its relationship with work-related stress was carried out.

Three clear themes within the research

The literature search has identified that the research in the subject can be divided into three main themes. The first theme focused in particular vulnerability based on structural circumstances, such as the over-representation of non-whites in certain occupations and industries, as well as precarious and temporary forms of work.

The second theme concerned particular vulnerability based on psychosocial circumstances. Studies have shown that people who are racialized as non-white are more likely to report a negative psychosocial work environment, including experiences of discrimination, special treatment and racism.
The third theme dealt with protective factors that could reduce the risk of psychosocial stress and its negative impact on health.

Supplementary literature searches

The research on work-related stress based on religion or other beliefs was not very extensive in the initial literature search. Only a few articles were identified. However, it emerged that there are studies from the US, UK and Europe that deal with workplace discrimination against people who openly identify as Muslim. In order to gain more knowledge in this area, further searches and supplementary investigations are needed.

About the knowledge compilation

On June 1, 2023, the assignment was partially reported to the Ministry of Labor and the Forum for Living History. Reporting to the government will take place on March 1, 2024. When the assignment has been reported, the work will begin to spread the knowledge to the target groups of employers, safety representatives and other elected officials as support in the work with the systematic work environment work.