New report shows that DEI is working and that most people value diversity and want to see their organizations commit to it long-term.
This May, the Pew Research Center conducted a survey on workplace diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts among employed U.S. adults. The survey found that a majority of workers (56%) believe that focusing on increasing DEI at work is positive. However, opinions on DEI vary across demographic and political lines.
DEI continues to produce better business outcomes, yet pushback and budget cuts are commonplace. For organizations that are staying committed to DEI, consider these key takeaways from the research.
Importance of DEI
Relatively small percentages of workers consider various aspects of diversity to be extremely or very important at their workplace. About 32% value a mix of employees of different races and ethnicities, 28% value a mix of different ages, 26% value a mix of men and women, and 18% value a mix of different sexual orientations. This matters because most people are neutral to supportive, yet often are reluctant to contribute to DEI efforts. Organizations need to make it easier for people to understand their role in DEI and why it matters to the organization’s success.
Employer Attention to DEI
Roughly half of workers (54%) believe that their company or organization pays about the right amount of attention to increasing DEI. However, 14% think their employer pays too much attention, 15% think they pay too little attention, and 17% are unsure. Black workers are more likely to think their employer pays too little attention to DEI. This is critical because most people want continued action on DEI. Given a tight labor market, this is a potential competitive advantage at a time when many organizations are pulling back on DEI.
Importance of DEI Efforts for Women
Women are more likely than men to value DEI at work. About 61% of women think focusing on increasing DEI is a good thing, compared to 50% of men. Women also place more importance on workplace diversity in terms of gender, race and ethnicity, age, and sexual orientation. Women are continuing to leave the workforce at much higher rates than men. DEI is a compelling way to retain high potential women.
Partisan Differences on Workplace DEI
There are significant partisan differences in views on workplace DEI. 78% of Democrats believe that focusing on DEI at work is a good thing, compared to only 30% of Republicans. Democrats also place more value on different aspects of diversity and perceive more positive impacts of DEI policies and resources in their workplace. This stark divide needs to be addressed. Organizations need to clearly communicate that DEI is not a political issue, it’s a human issue.
Accessibility for People with Disabilities
Half of workers believe it is extremely or very important to work in a place that is accessible for people with physical disabilities. Women, Black workers, and Democrats are more likely to place importance on workplace accessibility. This matters because a quarter of the US working population has a disability and the unemployment rate for those with disabilities is double of those without disabilities. Organizations that make accommodations and provide flexible and virtual work attract and retain underrepresented talent with disabilities.
DEI Systems Work
The survey found that 61% of workers believe their workplaces have policies that ensure fairness in hiring, pay, or promotions. Additionally, 52% report having DEI trainings or meetings at work. Smaller percentages indicate having a staff member promoting DEI (33%), salary transparency (30%), or affinity groups or employee resource groups (26%). Systems work is critical for long-term DEI success. Addressing the bias in hiring, pay and promotion decisions can improve representation of marginalized groups.
Majority Group Favoritism
Many say being a man or being White is an advantage where they work. The survey asked respondents whether a person’s gender, race or ethnicity makes it easier or harder to be successful where they work. Shares ranging from 45% to 57% say these traits make it neither easier nor harder. But far more say being a man and being White makes it easier than say it makes it harder for someone to be successful. Conversely, by double-digit margins, more say being a woman, and being Black or being Hispanic makes it harder than say it makes it easier to be successful where they work. This needs to be addressed because fairness is a deeply human primal need. If people don’t feel that their workplace is fair, they won’t do their best work.
Overall, organizations need to pay attention to the varying opinions on DEI efforts at work across different demographics and political affiliations. Most people value diversity and want to see their organizations commit to it long-term.
Previously Published on Next Pivot Point and is republished on Medium.
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