Diversity in the Workplace

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Monday, June 14, 2021
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Demographics affect how employees view policies.

How are workplace outcomes affected by a company’s diversity and inclusion practices? That question is examined in a new study produced by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, with support from Moody’s Corporation and DiversityInc.

The study explores how U.S. companies define five key concepts: diversity, inclusion, belonging, equity, and respect. In addition, it examines how companies are implementing practices that relate to these concepts and how leaders measure the effectiveness of these practices. The report also notes that new concepts in the U.S. often emerge in accordance with prominent social movements and highly publicized workplace challenges.

Key findings indicate that demographic differences affect how employees view diversity and inclusion policies:

  • People of color report greater access to diversity practices than white employees. In many cases, Black employees feel that they have greater access to diversity and inclusion practices than all other racial groups.
  • People of color and women more strongly agree that they engage in “speaking up” behavior at work—that is, they speak out against bias or they promote diversity in hiring processes and practices. However, relative to women of color, white women more strongly agree that they engage in helping behavior at work.
  • People of color, particularly Black employees, report greater turnover intent relative to white employees.

The study shows a high correlation between managerial involvement and better work engagement, job satisfaction, sense of belonging, and reduced turnover intent. Respondents also indicate that when they have access to education, training, and internal diversity partners, they feel more empowered to speak up at work.

The study shows a high correlation between managerial involvement and better work engagement, job satisfaction, sense of belonging, and reduced turnover intent.

“While diverse workforces and inclusive cultures and policies are essential, measuring the impact is critical to the health and success of an organization,” says Carolynn Johnson, chief executive officer of DiversityInc. “Researchers found that managerial involvement, workplace policies, and mentoring and sponsorship programs were the most common factors that shaped inclusivity in the workplace.”

According to the report, 43.3 percent of employees’ affective commitment is driven by managerial involvement, and 51.5 percent of the experience of inclusion is driven by mentoring and sponsorship programs. Such data “have the potential to inform leadership of the impact of their investment and reform infrastructural processes related to diversity and inclusion,” says Johnson.

Research for the study was conducted by Wharton between September 2018 and January 2021. To date, study participants have included more than 30 diversity, talent, and analytics experts, as well as 6,600 working adults around the world. This report focuses on results from the research team’s Inclusion & Belonging Assessment taken by 1,628 adults in the U.S. who work across more than 15 industries.

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