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Diversity, Equity & Inclusion At Work: Do Americans Really Care?

American workers share their true opinions on the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace, whether or not they’d take pay cuts to improve workplace diversity, thoughts on management’s approach to DE&I in 2022, and much more. 


At GoodHire, we surveyed 3,000 American workers to uncover how they felt about workplace diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I). We also queried about related 2022 hiring, retention, and advancement concerns as it relates to DE&I strategies.

We investigated employees’ thoughts regarding diversity at work and its subsequent effects on productivity and general worker well-being.

We asked whether employees would take a pay cut in support of a diverse environment, or if they would leave their job because their employer exhibited a lack of commitment to DE&I in the workplace.

Additionally, survey respondents provided insight into whether discrimination and/or harassment was taking place in their specific workplaces. 

Let’s get right into a data recap.

Summary Of Key Findings

  • 72% of respondents believed that their companies were racially and ethnically diverse.
  • 81% of all respondents would consider leaving their job due to an employer’s lack of commitment regarding DE&I, and 87% of respondents in leadership positions echoed that statement.
  • 54% of respondents said they would consider taking a pay cut to ensure a more diverse and inclusive workplace, and 66% of respondents in leadership positions said the same.
  • 59% of all respondents said their companies prioritize diversity in leadership/C-Suite roles.
  • 48% of those in leadership positions said they sometimes, often, or quite often face issues with discrimination and/or harassment in the workplace. 52% of those in leadership positions said they rarely or never witnessed discrimination and harassment in the workplace.
  • 72% of respondents felt that diverse workforces are more productive.
  • 75% of respondents said that they had confidence that if harassment and discrimination did occur, their employer would handle the situation correctly.
  • 75% of men and 69% of women agreed or strongly agreed that their employers were on board with a strong DE&I hiring plan.
Graphic showing 75% of workers believe their employers prioritize DE&I at work.

Organizational Commitment To DE&I

First, 75% of all respondents agreed that their employer clearly prioritized making their workplace diverse, equitable, and inclusive. 

We defined leadership positions as an owner/partner, president, CEO, chairperson, senior management, middle management, and C-level executive, and 85% percent of this group also felt that their employers prioritized DE&I.

In general, our survey showed that 78% of men and 73% of women recognized their companies’ commitment to prioritizing a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace.

Graphic showing 75% of workers believe their employers prioritize DE&I at work.

We wondered if employees and leaders wished that their current employer would invest more time and financial resources toward making the workplace more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A majority of respondents said yes. A big 70% of those in leadership positions affirmed also. 

However, while 57% of men wanted their companies to make a stronger commitment to DE&I, only 48% of women felt the same. 

It’s one thing to have company websites loaded with pictures of a diverse entry-level workforce, but what about the C-Suite leadership group? 

Our data shows that 59% of all survey respondents felt that their companies prioritized having diverse employees in leadership/C-Suite roles just as much as they did at lower levels. 69% of the leaders themselves felt the same way. Again, we saw a dichotomy between men and women as 63% of men agreed that their companies had a commitment to C-Suite DE&I while 57% of women concurred.

What about direct reports? We were able to ascertain that 72% of all survey respondents confirmed that their direct manager/boss showed commitment and interest in creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace where everyone felt respected and comfortable being themselves. Leaders were on board, as a full 80% of employees agreed that their direct reports made solid DE&I commitments. Once again, a few more men (75%) than women (69%) recognized company commitments to a diverse, equitable, and inclusive C-Suite.

DE&I Impact On Hiring, Retention & Advancement

Diversity in the workplace starts with hiring, however, only 72% of our respondents were convinced that their employers showed a commitment to hiring employees from diverse backgrounds with differing abilities and skill sets. 

Let’s break that down — 78% of those in leadership positions could see that commitment, while 75% of men and 69% of women agreed or strongly agreed that their employers were on board with a strong DE&I hiring plan.

Did company workers believe that a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforce would help the company they worked for recruit, hire, and retain more talented workers? Again, 72% of all respondents did, with leadership-level employees even more convinced (79% agreed or strongly agreed). Here, both men and women concurred, with 72% of each group strongly agreeing that having a diverse workforce would help lead to a more successful work environment.

Did employees think that colleagues from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds and of different genders and sexual orientations really did have the same opportunities for leadership roles and promotions at their current companies? A solid 72% of all respondents said yes, while even more in leadership positions (78%) agreed or strongly agreed. Men and women were closely aligned and over 71% of each group were positive about company leadership opportunities for those from diverse ethnic backgrounds.

It’s one thing for employees to feel great about their employers’ intentions regarding DE&I, but would employees really quit their jobs if they perceived a lack of commitment to pursue DE&I in the workplace?

Surprisingly, 81% of all respondents would consider leaving their jobs due to an employer’s lack of commitment regarding DE&I. 

The Great Resignation has shown us that workers are jumping from job to job more than ever before. It’s now extremely important for employers to mitigate the risk of an unhappy workforce by prioritizing what employees truly want, including a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace.

Graphic showing 81% of workers would consider quitting if employers lacked commitment to DE&I in the workplace.

A stout 87% of those in leadership positions would consider a job change, and both 81% of men and women said that they would consider moving to a different company due to a lack of employer commitment to DE&I.

DE&I & The Workforce, Culture & Environment

Talking about what-ifs and lofty company goals is different from really feeling that a company currently employs a diverse workforce. 

Are most of America’s companies now racially diverse? Our survey says yes, because at least 72% of men, women, and those in leadership positions felt comfortable saying that “the employees at my current company are racially and ethnically diverse,” (meaning the workforce involves people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds and of different genders, and sexual orientations).

So, does a more diverse group of coworkers lead to an enjoyable and potentially more successful work environment? 83% of those in leadership positions and more than 76% of the rest of our respondents resoundingly agreed.

If the workplace is more enjoyable, would that aura increase productivity and performance from the diverse group of workers in place? Big positive numbers here again as 72% felt that diversity equaled productivity.

A company can have a diverse workforce but that does not necessarily guarantee that all employees are on board with the program. We wanted to know if the companies that ensured a diverse workforce also took action to make all employees feel welcome and respected. Overall, over three-quarters of our respondents said yes, and those in leadership positions were even more emphatic as 81% agreed that their companies ensured that all employees fully respect their coworkers.

Finally, more than half of our respondents said they would be willing to take the drastic step of a pay cut to help ensure company diversity; showing a commitment to making diversity at work a priority. 

Graphic showing 54% of workers would consider taking a pay cut to help create a more diverse and inclusive employee base.

A previous study by GoodHire has shown that employees are willing to take pay cuts to work remotely, but to see a strong commitment like this to diversity, equity and inclusion is a big step forward for all workers. 

Issues & Concerns At Work Relating To DE&I

At any organization, issues involving harassment and/or discrimination in the workforce can and do arise. 

A solid majority of respondents were not aware of specific harassment and discrimination occurrences as an impressive 64% said these things occurred rarely or never. Drilling down, 52% of those in leadership positions said they rarely or never witnessed discrimination and harassment, while 48% said sometimes, often, or quite often. 61% of men and 65% of women reported said that harassment and discrimination rarely happen.

Finally, over 75% of respondents said they had confidence that if harassment and discrimination did occur, their employer would handle the situation correctly.

Graphic showing 75% of workers are confident that employers would manage discrimination or harassment issues the right way.

Overall, it seems as though employees are quite satisfied with how management has handled discrimination and harassment issues in the workplace. 

Wrapping It Up

A majority of American employees believe that their workplaces are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. While a greater percentage of those in leadership roles consistently gave their companies higher positive marks, again, more than 75% of all employee respondents believed that company commitment to DE&I was ingrained.

While over 72% of surveyed employees were happy with their companies’ interest in creating a more diverse workplace, that means almost a third were not. Employees’ commitments to workplace diversity for all were perceived as strong as 81% would at least consider leaving their job if DE&I were not pursued by their employers.

Over 72% believed that their companies were racially and ethnically diverse and felt that performance and productivity would both benefit from that diversity.

Pay cuts to help achieve the desired level of diversity were also highlighted, as more than half of all respondents claimed that they would consider taking a pay cut to help their companies achieve DE&I.

Finally, 64% said that they had not witnessed occurrences of harassment and/or discrimination at their workplaces, a truly positive sign for management and forward-thinking businesses in America. Again, on the flip side, that means 36% said they have witnessed such occurrences sometimes, often, or quite often, which means more work needs to be done.

For more information on GoodHire’s research or to request graphics or an interview about this study, please contact press@goodhire.com.  

SURVEY Methodology

All data found within this report is derived from a survey by GoodHire conducted online via the survey platform Pollfish. In total, 3,000 adult Americans currently employed for wages were surveyed. The respondents were found via Pollfish’s employment filtering feature. In total, 1,387 men and 1,613 women were surveyed. This survey was conducted over a three-day span from June 20-22, 2022. All respondents were asked to answer all questions as truthfully as possible and to the best of their knowledge and abilities. 

DISCLAIMER

The resources provided here are for educational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. We advise you to consult your own counsel if you have legal questions related to your specific practices and compliance with applicable laws.


About the Author

As GoodHire’s managing editor, Sara Korolevich produces educational resources for employers on a variety of employment screening topics, including compliance and screening best practices, and writes about GoodHire’s company and product news. Sara’s experience stems from 20+ years working as a B2C and B2B PR and communications professional.