Project Overview

Despite laws banning employment discrimination in US, studies show racial discrimination persists in the workplace, negatively affecting pay, productivity, skill development, and job quality for workers of color. Workers of color also continue to be overrepresented in low-wage jobs, a legacy of slavery and occupational segregation. These trends limit their ability to improve their earnings, advance their careers, and achieve upward economic mobility. In recent years, employers have made long-overdue commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policies and practices, prompted in part by a national reckoning with systemic racism sparked by George Floyd’s murder and the COVID-19 pandemic’s disparate impact on communities of color.

Whether employer-led DEI policies and practices have yielded measurable changes in the lives of workers of color remains an open question, one this project seeks to answer through quantitative and qualitative research. Led by the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, the project will field a nationally representative survey of Asian American, Black, Latinx, and white workers about their experiences and perceptions of workplace discrimination and DEI policies and practices aimed at eliminating bias and improving advancement opportunities. The project team will engage a diverse group of stakeholders in designing the survey, including workers, employment policy experts, and researchers at historically Black colleges and universities, such as Delaware State University. The project’s results will inform policies and practices designed to eliminate discrimination and create more equitable workplaces.


Employer practices Executive Summary June 26, 2023

A Workplace Divided: Survey Research and Stakeholder Engagement to Advance Equitable Workplaces

A national survey by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University explores workers' perceptions of discrimination and unfair treatment based on race and ethnicity. The survey reveals significant percentages of Asian-American, Black, and Latino workers experience discrimination in private-sector and government workplaces. Black workers are more likely to view workplace discrimination as a significant problem than white workers, with Black female workers reporting the highest levels of discrimination. The study highlights the impact of discrimination on career advancement and the need for government and employer interventions to promote workplace equity.

Carl E. Van Horn, Ronald Quincy, Jessica Starace, Anton House

Grantee Research

June 26, 2023