Where DEI Falls Short

Written by Caitlin Mullen for Bizwomen



Across industries, Black workers say their employers’ diversity and inclusion efforts fall short, especially in sectors like finance and accounting, insurance, manufacturing and energy. Those findings come from a recent report by Glassdoor Economic Research, which highlights racial or ethnic gaps in satisfaction with employers’ diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. Most employees want to work for a company that prioritizes diversity, equity and inclusion, and while companies pursued D&I initiatives prior to 2020, last year’s racial justice protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd only accelerated those efforts. Glassdoor users rated their employers’ diversity and inclusion efforts at 3.73, on average, on a scale of 1 to 5. But views differed based on ethnicity: Asian employees’ ratings were generally higher, while Black employees’ ratings were typically lower. In many industries, Hispanic workers’ average ratings were higher than white employees’.

“Most strikingly, across almost all sectors in our sample, Black or African American employees have a less positive outlook as to the state of D&I efforts at their company as compared to employees from other racial or ethnic groups,” the report noted.

Even in industries where Black workers have greater representation, like government and non-profit sectors, their satisfaction with diversity and inclusion efforts is lower than that of white employees.

In the information technology sector, where Black workers are underrepresented, there’s a notable perception gap: Black employees’ average rating was 3.53, compared to white employees’ average rating of 3.74. In insurance, Black employees’ average rating on D&I satisfaction was 3.16, compared to white employees’ 3.85.

Black employees’ average rating in the biotech and pharmaceuticals industry was 3.50, while white employees’ rating was 4.05. In accounting and legal, Black employees’ average rating was 3.32, to white employees’ 4.00, per Glassdoor.

The lowest rating among Black employees was found in the oil, gas, energy and utilities sector, at 3.00. White employees in that industry averaged a 3.60 rating.

Gaps were significantly smaller in industries like media (an average of 3.80 among Black employees and 3.82 for white employees) and telecommunications (3.66 to 3.78), HR Dive reported.

In some sectors, including business services, transportation and logistics, engineering and military and protective services, Black employees’ average rating was slightly higher than white employees.

Still, even in an industry like retail, where average rating gaps were minimal, Black, Hispanic and Asian workers were more likely than white workers to give their employers 1 out of 5 stars on diversity and inclusion efforts. Black workers were 56% more likely than white peers to rate employers a 1; Asian workers were 47% more likely and Hispanic workers were 44% more likely than white workers to do this.

The Glassdoor report said these findings point to “a systemic failure across workplaces in all sectors to meaningfully create cultures embracing diversity & inclusion.” An important note: Glassdoor said 56% of the diversity and inclusion ratings came from white employees, per HR Dive. Companies need to make sure they’re hearing from underrepresented groups of employees or they’ll risk creating blind spots.

“While diversity at work is not strictly limited to race and ethnicity — gender, sexual orientation and age are also important facets of workplace diversity — this means overall D&I satisfaction, and employee satisfaction more broadly, tend to be defined if not dominated by the opinions of white employees,” the report noted.

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