Inclusion efforts progressing at work—but unconscious bias remains

by | Apr 1, 2019 | Public Relations

Progress is being made to create a culture of diversity and inclusion (D&I) in organizations, but according to a new executive survey from Korn Ferry, much more needs to be done to close the gap.

The vast majority of respondents (81 percent) say they believe they work for a diverse and inclusive company, and 87 percent say there is more of a focus on D&I in their organization today than 5 years ago. Further, 76 percent of respondents say that they do understand the causes of bias, and 62 percent have D&I programs in place to help ameliorate the issue.

However, 59 percent feel there is still an element of unconscious bias

This is especially true when it comes to diverse backgrounds such as religion, race, gender or sexual preference.

“Understanding the behaviors that cause bias is a strong step, but it’s not enough to create effective action,” said Andrés Tapia, a global diversity and inclusion strategist and thought leader at Korn Ferry, in a news release. “Organizations need to address the structural issues that are keeping bias alive, including pay parity, role expectations and high-potential talent criteria that favor one group over another.”

According to the survey, there are clear business reasons to focus on the issue. Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) say their D&I programs help with employee retention and 76 percent say D&I initiatives lead to greater innovation.

“The dichotomy between an overwhelming sense that D&I is good for business and yet the continued lack of truly breakthrough progress indicate that organizations need to address inherent bias issues not only in a strategic, programmatic and sustainable way, but also with courage and determination,” said Tapia.

Full survey results:

Do you feel like you work for a diverse and inclusive company?

  • Yes            81 percent
  • No 19 percent

Does your organization have diversity and inclusion programs in place?

  • Yes 62 percent
  • No 38 percent

Does your organization put a conscious focus on creating a culture of diversity and inclusion?

  • Yes 78 percent
  • No 22 percent

Compared to 5 years ago, how much of an effort does your organization place on diversity and inclusion?

  • Much more 28 percent
  • Somewhat more 59 percent
  • Somewhat less 13 percent
  • Much less 0 percent

Do you think there is an element of unconscious bias in your organization when it comes to diverse backgrounds such as religion, race, gender or sexual preference?

  • Yes 59 percent
  • No 41 percent

Do your organization’s diversity and inclusion programs enhance employee retention?

  • Yes 63 percent
  • No 37 percent

Does a lack of focus on diversity and inclusion contribute to employee turnover?

  • Yes 49 percent
  • No 51 percent

Does a focus on diversity and inclusion contribute to greater innovation?

  • Yes 76 percent
  • No 24 percent

If progress to increase diversity and inclusion has been slow, does your organization understand the root causes?

  • Yes to a great extent 22 percent
  • Yes to some extent 48 percent
  • No to some extent 24 percent
  • No to a great extent 0 percent

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter


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