U.S.-based companies of all sizes are seeing progress, yet continue to face challenges, with workplace diversity and inclusion, according to new research by XperHR.
The three biggest hurdles to moving diversity and inclusion forward are time and commitment, benchmarking diversity and inclusion efforts, and resistance to change in the corporate culture, according respondents to XpertHR's Diversity in the Workplace Survey of more than 600 companies in all 50 states.
Workplace diversity efforts since 2010 have focused on permitting employees to take unpaid leave to observe religious, cultural and ethnic holidays and increasing efforts to recruit and hire a diverse workforce, noted Peggy Carter-Ward, author of "Diversity in the Workplace: A Survey of the American Business Landscape,” based on the survey.
Among the survey's key findings:
- More than half of workplaces report that diversity has increased over the past five years.
- Ethnic and racial diversity are traits most aggressively recruited, followed closely by veterans.
- Nearly half of workplaces do not consider religion a diversity criterion, and more than 4 in 10 do not consider sexual orientation.
- Geography played a role in the diversity of two- thirds of workplaces, with one-fifth saying geography hurt their efforts and more than 40 percent saying geography helped.
- Global employers are far more likely to have diversity initiatives than their U.S.-only counterparts.
- The three diversity initiatives respondents prioritized for the next five years are formation of affinity groups, instituting mentoring programs and/or career development programs for diverse employees, and a focus on supplier diversity.
Unconscious or unintentional biases, such as "like hiring like” and potentially erroneous assumptions about details of the job requirements or an applicant's intrinsic capabilities, often hamper diversity efforts, Carter-Ward said.
"The benefits of a well-rounded and diverse workforce are well documented," she said, adding a workplace isn't optimized for talent if diversity isn't embraced and institutionalized.