The Surprising Find about Americans and Diversity

Creating more diverse workplaces is on the priorities list of many HR leaders, but the best way to accomplish that aim has long been the source of debate. And according to a new study, Americans are also divided on how their employers should be bringing diversity to fruition.

A survey conducted earlier this year and recently released by the Pew Research Center of more than 6,600 U.S. adults about attitudes toward American diversity found broad support for efforts to create more diverse workplaces–75% of respondents feel it is somewhat or very important for employers to promote racial and ethnic diversity in their workplaces–but that support is complicated by a number of factors. In particular, only a small share of survey participants (24%) said employers should consider candidates’ race or ethnicity, in addition to their qualifications, in the hiring or promotion process, in order to enhance diversity; the other three-quarters responded that hiring and promotions should be based solely on an applicant’s qualifications, even if that results in less workplace diversity.

Pew drilled down the data to uncover other insights:

  • Black respondents were the most likely (67%) to say workplace diversity is very important, compared to 43% of whites;
  • 64% of Democrats and 29% of Republicans deemed diversity at work to be very important;
  • white participants were the most likely (78%) to say a person’s qualifications should be the only factor in hiring and promotions, compared to 69% of Hispanic and 54% of black respondents; and
  • 90% of Republicans responded that race and ethnicity shouldn’t factor into hiring and promotion decisions, compared to 62% of Democrats.

Also of note, the survey revealed that although a majority of respondents were satisfied with the diversity of their local communities–and believe that diversity has a positive impact on American culture–few report significant daily interaction with people who do not share their race or ethnicity. For instance, 84% of white respondents said they interact a lot with other white people in their day-to-day lives–compared to 25% with black people, 23% with Hispanic individuals and 11% with Asians.

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Jen Colletta
Jen Colletta is managing editor at HRE. She earned bachelor's and master's degrees in writing from La Salle University in Philadelphia and spent 10 years as a newspaper reporter and editor before joining HRE. She can be reached at [email protected]