The past year has decidedly increased people’s awareness of racial injustice, and a new study from diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy firm Paradigm explores how the past twelve months have shaped Americans’ views on the issue—and what that means for businesses.
According the firm’s new survey research, Paradigm Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Update: How the Racial Justice Movement is Reshaping Corporate America, conducted by The Harris Poll, the majority of people want to see organizations take action on racial injustice, and that people want their own employers to create an inclusive workplace.
“Americans have collectively experienced a crash course in systemic racism, as they’ve watched the horrific murders of unarmed Black people, an increase in hate crimes targeting the Asian community, and a pandemic that disproportionately impacted people of color,” said Dr. Evelyn Carter, managing director at Paradigm, in a news release. “While the new data in our report show some interesting differences in beliefs between age and racial/ethnic groups, the overarching message is clear: Americans know that racial injustice is a problem, they want to talk about it, and they’re looking to their employers to help them continue learning.”
Americans’ evolving views on racial injustice
A majority of Americans (69 percent) believe that racial injustice is a problem in the United States, and 60 percent said they now think racial injustice is a bigger problem than they thought it was before the events of the past 12 months. While a majority of people shared this perspective across all demographic groups, perspectives on racial injustice varied by age and race/ethnicity, with younger generations and people of color being more likely to think racial injustice is a problem in the U.S. than older generations and white Americans.
- People between the ages of 18-44 are more likely than those 55+ to believe racial injustice is a problem in the U.S. (76 percent vs. 62 percent).
- People of color are more likely than white Americans to think racial injustice is a problem in the U.S. (75 percent vs. 65 percent).
Increasing awareness of racial injustice may also be motivating people to take action—61 percent said they want to be an ally to marginalized groups, with people of color (68 percent) more likely to express a desire to be allies compared to white Americans (56 percent).
People’s views shape their expectations of businesses
The majority of Americans (66 percent) think businesses should take action on racial injustice issues. Many employed Americans also said they would hold their company accountable if it didn’t take a stance—54 percent would consider leaving their organization if it didn’t speak out directly against racial injustice. This belief was particularly high among those ages 18-44 (63 percent) compared to those 45 and older (40 percent).
People also want to talk about racial injustice at work: 68 percent of Americans believe people should be able to discuss racial justice issues at work.
People want diverse and inclusive workplaces, but roadblocks remain
Most employed Americans want their companies to invest in creating/supporting an inclusive work environment, with 72 percent saying they want their employer to invest in this area. While there was no significant difference in opinion among racial/ethnic groups, there were significant differences among age groups: 84 percent of employees between the ages 35-44 expressed this belief, compared to 69 percent of employees 45 and older.
While people are clearly looking for inclusive work environments, many are not finding them. Nearly half of respondents (49 percent), however, said they witnessed or experienced racial bias or discrimination at work in the past 12 months.
This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Paradigm between May 4-6, 2021 among 2,035 adults ages 18+, among whom 868 are employed full-time or part-time. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.