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Karl Young


Senior Content & Online PR Manager

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The UK workforce as 100 people: what can we learn about diversity?


When comparing the UK proportionally represented by 100 people with the current makeup of the UK workforce as 100 people, we are faced with the true reality of the lack of diversity in the working world.

Diversity plays an important role in helping communities thrive, and this is no different in the workplace. Collaboration that involves different experiences and viewpoints can help further ideas and development and introduce innovation.

Understanding diversity in the workplace can be difficult at first glance, owing to the large figures involved. To make it easier to explore this topic, office furniture suppliers Viking have visualised the UK workforce proportionally represented by 100 people and compared it to the UK population as a whole where appropriate.

This visualisation allows better insight into the current makeup of the workforce, and where British companies could be doing better when it comes to representation.

Creating the visualisation

To reduce the workforce to 100 people, Viking utilised 2011 census data from the Office of National Statistics. The study investigated the following demographic points:

  1. Gender

  2. Ethnicity

  3. Religion

  4. Health

  5. Age

  6. Hours worked

  7. Industry

  8. Qualifications

  9. Primary language

Four of these – health, religion, ethnicity and gender – were then compared to the UK population as 100 people. The results highlighted where UK industry is currently falling short of true representation of the country at large.


Those suffering from poor or ill health can be limited in the employment they are able to undertake. For those who can go to work, it seems opportunity may be limited.

Source: Viking 2019

The workforce as 100 people highlights that those in bad and very bad health are under-represented across UK industries by five people. Those five people represent 1.25 million UK residents.


The visualisation of the workplace as 100 people also highlighted representation issues when it comes to gender.

Source: Viking 2019

Represented as 100 people, 51 people in the UK population are female, compared to only 47 in the UK workforce. This shows an under-representation of four people, which is about equal to 1 million women across the population.


The UK has long been known for its multicultural society. A comparison between the UK workplace as 100 people and the UK population as 100 people highlights areas where this diversity isn’t represented in UK industries.

Source: Viking 2019

Those from mixed race and Asian backgrounds are most likely to be under-represented. Those of mixed race are under-represented by one person in 100 in the study. Those of Asian descent are under-represented by two people.


The study also revealed how religions are represented in the workplace. Three religions in the UK have a large enough following to be represented by at least one whole person in the workplace as 100 people – Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism.

All three of these major religions are under-represented in the workplace as 100 people when compared to the UK as a whole. Christians and Hindus are under-represented by one person each, while Muslims are under-represented by two people.

Addressing representation

The results of this study highlight where more could be done to improve representation in the UK workplace. There are plenty of things managers could be doing to assist with this matter.

Assessing diversity

To get a realistic idea of how your business is currently performing when it comes to diversity and representation, it’s worth undertaking a diversity assessment.

A diversity assessment will prompt you to analyse the demographic makeup of your staff. Completing one will provide accurate insight into what your workforce looks like.

By comparing your workplace diversity assessment to the workplace as 100 people and the UK population as 100 people, you’ll be able to see which groups are under-represented in your organisation.  

Once you’ve completed a diversity assessment and comparison, it’s handy to think about why the problems that you’ve uncovered exist. Think about whether diversity gaps reflect your local area, or whether you could be doing more to attract more diverse applicants to roles in your business.

Improving workplace offerings

One way to try and improve your workplace diversity is to ensure your organisation is welcoming and practical for all people. Barriers to working somewhere are often overlooked by those to whom they do not apply.

Try and look at your workplace through the eyes of other people. What could be off-putting to them? For example, for religious people, it may be important to have a quiet space available for prayer and reflection. Similarly, those suffering from ill health may feel unwelcome if your office is difficult to navigate.

Assess whether those with physical disabilities would be able to use your office. Are walkways and doorways wide enough? Can chair and desk heights be altered to suit individual needs?

If you can set your business up with these facilities prior to recruiting, it can make your organisation more welcoming to a wider group of people.

Watch the video for the full results…

Author Profile Picture
Karl Young

Senior Content & Online PR Manager

Read more from Karl Young

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