Employer practices

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

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This national survey conducted by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University explored workers' perceptions of discrimination and unfair treatment based on race and ethnicity. The survey included 3,277 full- and part-time workers from various racial and ethnic backgrounds.

The primary findings include:

  • A significant portion of Asian-American, Black, and Latino workers experience discrimination in private-sector and government workplaces. Black workers were twice as likely as white workers to consider workplace discrimination a problem in private companies. Black females reported higher levels of discrimination than other racial and gender identities.
  • Unconscious bias plays a significant role in discrimination, with many workers attributing discrimination to this factor. A considerable portion of Black, Latino, and Asian-American workers reported being treated poorly or discriminated against based on their race or ethnicity in their current jobs.
  • Black female workers, in particular, experienced various forms of discrimination, including being denied promotions, earning less than colleagues in similar positions, and receiving less helpful advice. Moreover, many workers reported witnessing or hearing about workplace discrimination that did not directly affect them.
  • Workers in larger companies were more likely to believe that some individuals receive better treatment or higher pay due to their race or ethnicity. There was also a concern about possible retaliation for reporting discrimination, with Asian-American and Black workers expressing the highest concern.
  • Most workers consider feeling included and welcomed in the workplace important. However, Black workers expressed lower satisfaction levels with feeling included, and there were disparities in perceptions of inclusion across different racial and ethnic groups.
  • Workers expressed uncertainty about whether leaders in their organizations effectively addressed discrimination and called for action to combat it. There was strong support for laws protecting individuals from discrimination during hiring and promotions. However, some workers opposed workplace programs aimed at ensuring equal treatment for people of color.

The study provides insights into the prevalence of discrimination and the need for equitable workplaces. It emphasizes the importance of addressing unconscious bias, promoting diversity and inclusion, and implementing effective policies and programs to combat discrimination.