Companies may think they’re addressing diversity and inclusion, but HR leaders and other workers still see inequality, discrimination, and lack of respect…even though they don’t talk about it.
As important as conversations about race are, they often are uncomfortable and difficult. It can be easier to assume that your team leaders and others are all on the same page, share beliefs and goals, and fully embrace diversity and inclusion. However, an eye-opening new survey shows that the conversation is far from over and that some wide gaps still exist.
Despite significant investments in diversity, equity, and inclusion, many workers still see racial inequality as a serious issue. Among the survey’s findings:
- 49% of black HR professionals feel that discrimination based on race or ethnicity exists in their workplace, compared to only 13% of white professionals who feel this way.
- 68% of black respondents say, “My organization is not doing enough to provide opportunities for black employees,” compared to 35% of white professionals.
- 61% of black HR leaders say that incivility (such as rude comments or slights) exists in their workplace, compared to 44% of their white colleagues.
- Beyond HR, one-third of all black workers say they feel disrespected and unvalued in the workplace, compared with just 18% of white workers.
One issues that black and white HR professionals agree on is how hard it is to talk about race. Over a third (37%) of both white and black workers feel uncomfortable engaging in candid conversations about race at work. Outside of HR, similar numbers of black (38%) and white (42%) workers think it’s inappropriate to discuss race at work. Nearly half (45%) of black respondents say their workplace discourages discussions about racial injustice, and 30% of white respondents agree.
Tackling racial inequities clearly remains a challenge for many businesses. However, taking action, the survey authors say, “remains an uphill battle for those that don’t know how or remain unwilling to address racial injustice. It begins with the struggle to start productive discussions that can catalyze positive change.” They suggest a few tips for starting and maintaining a productive dialogue that can lead to positive change:
- Listen, and don’t conflate, compare, or contrast.
- Discuss, don’t debate.
- Set goals and honor feedback
According to their findings, companies seem to be stronger on some efforts and lukewarm at best on others. For instance, about half of HR leaders say their company does or plans to offer new training on implicit/unconscious bias or other diversity related topics, while only 30% say they’re adjusting/expanding policies and systems to reduce systemic and structural bias. At the same time, just 20% provide time off for employees to attend protests.
The survey authors conclude, “In 2020, the timetable for change accelerated dramatically. And while what should be done might seem to be a simple determination, we recognize that change itself is not. It will require us to learn openly from one another, creating real accountability and acting with transparency and agility.”