Discrimination In The Workplace: New Study Reveals That Many Leaders Don’t Want To Hear About It

Corporate leaders have recently released a flurry of statements committing to listening to their employees’ concerns about discrimination in the workplace.

But a new survey of 5,778 Americans shows that people do not feel like their corporate leaders are listening to those concerns.

  • Only 29% say ALWAYS that “Management at my organization listens to employee concerns about discrimination (race, sex/gender, age, etc.) without blame or defensiveness.”
  • Only 37% say ALWAYS that “I can report concerns about discrimination in the workplace without causing problems for myself.”
  • Only 32% say ALWAYS that “If I reported concerns about discrimination in the workplace, top leadership would listen with empathy and understanding.”
  • Only 28% say ALWAYS that “If I reported concerns about discrimination in the workplace, top leadership would take meaningful corrective action.”

VIDEO BREAKDOWN OF THE STUDY

 

STUDY DETAIL

Leadership IQ surveyed 5,778 employees and leaders in the United States during the week of June 8, 2020. Respondents answered 24 questions about how well their leaders responded to concerns about discrimination in the workplace. Respondents represented the following demographics (a more detailed breakdown can be found in the Methodology section at the bottom of this page). RACE/ETHNICITY: White (60%), Black (17%) -- GENDER: Female (70%), Male (29%) -- COMPANY SIZE [EMPLOYEES]: 1-9 (3%), 10-50 (11%), 51-100 (9%), 101-500 (22%), 501-2,000 (18%), 2,001-5,000 (13%), 5,001-10,000 (6%), 10,000+ (18%) -- POSITION: Administrative/Support personnel (12%), Professional (31%), Manager (30%), Director (15%), Top Level Executive & Vice President (11%). The margin of error is plus or minus 2 percentage points.

What follows is a more detailed breakdown of the survey results.

FINDING #1: A majority feel that management isn’t regularly listening to concerns about workplace discrimination without getting defensive. Only 29% of people say that management at their organization ALWAYS listens to employee concerns about discrimination (race, sex/gender, age, etc.) without blame or defensiveness.  Even when we add together ALWAYS and USUALLY respondents, that still leaves more than half of employees who don’t feel that management listens to workplace discrimination concerns without defensiveness.

discrimination in the workplace

FINDING #2: Executives are more likely than frontline employees to feel like management listens to concerns about workplace discrimination without getting defensive. But still, only 38% of executives and vice presidents say management ALWAYS listens.

discrimination in the workplace

FINDING #3: Women are significantly less likely than men to feel that management listens to workplace discrimination concerns without blame or defensiveness.

discrimination in the workplace

FINDING #4: Only one-in-ten black employees feel that management always listens to concerns about discrimination in the workplace without getting defensive, while white employees are approximately 250% more likely to feel that management always listens without defensiveness.

discrimination in the workplace

FINDING #5: Four-in-ten white men feel that management ALWAYS listens to concerns about discrimination in the workplace. But only one-in-ten black women feel that management listens without blame or defensiveness.

discrimination in the workplace

FINDING #6: Respondents feel that management at the smallest and largest companies do a better job of listening to workplace discrimination concerns, while medium-sized firms generally have the lowest scores.

DISCRIMINATION IN THE WORKPLACE

FINDING #7: A majority feel that they cannot report concerns about discrimination in the workplace without causing problems for themselves. Only 37% of people say that they can ALWAYS report concerns about discrimination in the workplace without causing problems for themselves. And 25% say that can NEVER or RARELY report concerns about discrimination in the workplace without causing problems for themselves.

Discrimination in the workplace

FINDING #8: While 59% of executives and vice presidents can ALWAYS report concerns about discrimination in the workplace without causing problems for themselves, only 23-31% of frontline employees can do so. And only about three-in-ten managers can ALWAYS report concerns about discrimination in the workplace without causing problems for themselves.

Discrimination in the workplace

FINDING #9: Only three-in-ten women can ALWAYS report concerns about discrimination in the workplace without causing problems for themselves, while that number is nearly five-in-ten for men.

Discrimination in the workplace

FINDING #10: Only 13% of black employees feel that they can ALWAYS report concerns about discrimination in the workplace without causing problems for themselves. That number is nearly 3 times higher for white employees.

Discrimination in the workplace

FINDING #11: Five-in-ten white men feel that they can ALWAYS report concerns about discrimination in the workplace without causing problems for themselves. But fewer than one-in-ten black women feel that they can ALWAYS report concerns about discrimination in the workplace without causing problems for themselves.

Discrimination in the workplace

FINDING #12: Respondents at smaller organizations are more likely to say that they can ALWAYS report concerns about discrimination in the workplace without causing problems for myself.

Discrimination in the workplace

FINDING #13: Only 32% of people say that if they reported concerns about discrimination in the workplace, top leadership would ALWAYS listen with empathy and understanding. And 20% say that if they reported concerns about discrimination in the workplace, top leadership would NEVER or RARELY listen with empathy and understanding.

Discrimination in the workplace

FINDING #14: Only two-in-ten administrative/support personnel say that if they reported concerns about discrimination in the workplace, top leadership would ALWAYS listen with empathy and understanding. And only three-in-ten professionals and managers say that if they reported concerns about discrimination in the workplace, top leadership would ALWAYS listen with empathy and understanding.

Discrimination in the workplace

FINDING #15: Fewer than three-in-ten women say that if they reported concerns about discrimination in the workplace, top leadership would ALWAYS listen with empathy and understanding.

Discrimination in the workplace

FINDING #16: Only 15% of black employees say that if they reported concerns about discrimination in the workplace, top leadership would ALWAYS listen with empathy and understanding. And 33% of white employees say that if they reported concerns about discrimination in the workplace, top leadership would ALWAYS listen with empathy and understanding.

Discrimination in the workplace

FINDING #17: Five-in-ten white men say that if they reported concerns about discrimination in the workplace, top leadership would ALWAYS listen with empathy and understanding. But around one-in-ten black women say that if they reported concerns about discrimination in the workplace, top leadership would ALWAYS listen with empathy and understanding.

Discrimination in the workplace

FINDING #18: Respondents at medium-sized firms are overall less likely to say that if they reported concerns about discrimination in the workplace, top leadership would ALWAYS listen with empathy and understanding. 

Discrimination in the workplace

FINDING #19: Only 28% of people say that if they reported concerns about discrimination in the workplace, top leadership would take meaningful corrective action. And 20% say that if they reported concerns about discrimination in the workplace, top leadership would NEVER or RARELY take meaningful corrective action.

Discrimination in the workplace

FINDING #20: Only two-in-ten administrative/support personnel say that if they reported concerns about discrimination in the workplace, top leadership would ALWAYS take meaningful corrective action. And fewer than three-in-ten professionals and managers say that if they reported concerns about discrimination in the workplace, top leadership would ALWAYS take meaningful corrective action.

Discrimination in the workplace

FINDING #21: Fewer than a quarter of women say that if they reported concerns about discrimination in the workplace, top leadership would ALWAYS take meaningful corrective action.

Discrimination in the workplace

FINDING #22: Only 13% of black employees say that if they reported concerns about discrimination in the workplace, top leadership would ALWAYS take meaningful corrective action. And 29% of white employees say that if they reported concerns about discrimination in the workplace, top leadership would ALWAYS take meaningful corrective action.

Discrimination in the workplace

FINDING #23: 45% of white men say that if they reported concerns about discrimination in the workplace, top leadership would ALWAYS take meaningful corrective action. But around one-in-ten black women say that if they reported concerns about discrimination in the workplace, top leadership would ALWAYS take meaningful corrective action.

Discrimination in the workplace

FINDING #24: Respondents at medium-sized firms are overall less likely to say that if they reported concerns about discrimination in the workplace, top leadership would ALWAYS take meaningful corrective action.

Discrimination in the workplace 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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