Many Leaders Don’t Want To Hear About Discrimination In The Workplace

Leadership IQ surveyed 5,778 Americans and found that that people do not feel like their corporate leaders are listening to concerns about discrimination in the workplace...

In 2020, US corporate leaders have overwhelming 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 actually listening to those concerns. Here are some highlights from this study...

  • Only 29% of employees say ALWAYS that “Management at my organization listens to employee concerns about discrimination (race, sex/gender, age, etc.) without blame or defensiveness.”
  • Only 23% of women say that if they reported concerns about discrimination in the workplace, top leadership would ALWAYS take meaningful corrective action.
  • Only 13% of Black employees feel that they can ALWAYS report concerns about discrimination in the workplace without causing problems for themselves.
  • Only 11% of 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.
  • 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.

STUDY METHODOLOGY
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.

video overview of the DISCRIMINATION IN THE WORKPLACE STUDY

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

The smallest and largest companies do a better job of listening to workplace discrimination concerns according to respondents, while medium-sized firms generally have the lowest scores.

FINDING #2: 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

FINDING #3: Only 32% of people say that if they reported concerns about discrimination in the workplace, top leadership would ALWAYS listen with empathy and understanding.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

FINDING #4: Only 28% of people say that if they reported concerns about discrimination in the workplace, top leadership would take meaningful corrective action.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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